Canada is standing by its plan to impose a vaccine requirement on all truckers entering from the U.S. starting Saturday, despite worries it could undermine supply chains and damage the economy.
In a statement Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government confirmed plans to deny entry into the country of unvaccinated truckers if they’re foreign nationals. Meanwhile, unvaccinated Canadian drivers will lose an exemption from testing and quarantine requirements.
The government had warned in November the exemption would be lifted this month.
The statement puts an end to confusion around the federal government’s policy on the matter. On Wednesday night, Reuters and Canadian Press reported they had received a statement from the Canada Border Services Agency that unvaccinated Canadian truckers would continue to be exempt from the rules.
“The information shared yesterday was provided in error,” according to a joint statement from Canada’s health, transport and public safety ministers. “Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information.”
Canada has already mandated vaccines for travelers on planes and trains, and is requiring inoculation for all federally-regulated workplaces including airlines, banks and telecom companies.
Trucking industry groups have warned the vaccine mandate could exacerbate a driver shortage and disrupt the flow of everything from food to steel at a time when supply chains are already strained from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The American Trucking Associations estimate only between 50% and 60% of U.S. truckers are vaccinated. The Canadian Trucking Association has said that even with 85% of its workforce inoculated, the policy will take as many as 16,000 drivers off the road.
Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, told BNN Bloomberg television Thursday there needs to be a “smoother transition” to the new rules.
He also said Canada and the U.S. should be working in tandem on the issue.