Mandatory vaccines for cross-border truckers may lead to driver shortage, companies say
New measures take effect Saturday
Some Island trucking companies say they will be impacted by a new mandatory vaccination policy for cross-border truck drivers.
Starting Saturday, drivers who cross from the United States to Canada will need to show proof of double vaccination.
Jonathan Ball, manager of Seafood Express in Charlottetown, says 80 per cent of the company's business is to the U.S.
And while only a few of its 80 drivers are not fully vaccinated, he said the new rule will "put a crunch" on cross border operations.
"It just decreases the amount of drivers we have to perform that work, and we'll have to try to find replacements in an already tight job market," he said.
"It's an industry that's seeing continued climbing costs, and this mandate, and a tighter job market will likely lead to those costs continuing to climb."
Ball said there may be work for his few unvaccinated drivers travelling within Canada, at least for the time being.
Tyson Kelly, manager of Bulk Carriers, said his company will feel the impact, as well.
He said somewhere between five and 15 per cent of Bulk Carriers' 120 drivers aren't yet fully vaccinated, but many will get the jab now that the new rule will be in effect .
"Most of them have all got their appointments booked, or already have their first one done, and are getting their second done," he said.
"But there's a period of time here, four to eight weeks, before all these drivers are vaccinated and able to cross."
Some industry groups have spoken out against the rule, arguing it will add to Canada's truck driver shortage, and ultimately increase the cost of food and other goods.
Ball thinks mandatory testing at the border makes more sense.
"Rapid testing or something like that, even if it was just for unvaccinated drivers, would be extremely helpful for the industry."
The federal government also plans to eventually make vaccination mandatory to drive within Canada, though a date has not been set.
Kelly said companies can't absorb all the additional costs that come with public health restrictions, and encourages everybody to do their part to help put an end to COVID-19.
"My own personal opinion is everyone should be following the rules, and getting vaccinated. Let's get life back to normal."
With files from Steve Bruce