Thu. May 26th, 2022

The truck industry’s tough stance on the vaccine mandate for drivers marks a wrong turn, say experts, who argue the sector should have been better prepared for the January deadline.

The Liberal government announced in November that all Canadian truck drivers wishing to cross the border from the United States must be vaccinated to avoid a 14-day quarantine, a policy that went into effect last Saturday.


Click to play video: 'BC truckers warn of effects of new US vaccination rules'







BC truckers warn of the effects of new US vaccination rules


BC truckers warn of the effects of new US vaccination rules

Warning of potential further damage to an already shrinking supply chain, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has urged the federal government over the past two months to keep the industry exempt from cross-border vaccine regulations or postpone them until 2023.

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‘Slow-roll’ protest planned by Quebec hauliers against COVID-19 vaccination mandate

Lori Turnbull, director of the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University, questioned the wisdom of truck drivers’ lobbying strategy as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained his stance in favor of vaccine mandates during last year’s federal election.

“Trudeau really drilled into putting pressure on vaccines,” Turnbull said. “If some companies make an effort and others do not, then I do not understand.

“It’s another thing again if companies really resist, as if the government has no right to get us to do this,” she said.


Click to play Video: 'Health Minister Defends Need for Trucker Vaccine Mandates'







The Minister of Health defends the need for haulage vaccine mandates


The Minister of Health defends the need for haulage vaccine mandates

Some big riggers strongly feel that Ottawa should stay out of the way. On Sunday, a “Freedom Convoy” is scheduled to roll out of British Columbia on its way to the capital for a demonstration against the mandate late next week. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised just over $ 1 million from donors in less than a week, according to its GoFundMe page.

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Up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who regularly drive across the border between Canada and the United States are likely to be put on the sidelines as a result of the vaccine mandate in both countries, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance and American Trucking Associations.

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Andrew Steele, a vice president at consulting firm StrategyCorp., However, said polls show that public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of strong vaccine requirements for key workers, and that companies and trade groups need to read the space.

“If you make a public relations or government strategy, you have to adapt it to public opinion. Governments, especially in a massive crisis with great efforts like this, do not stand up to public opinion and do the opposite,” he said.

Trade groups say that while several haulage companies have 100 percent vaccination rates and offer bonuses to workers who get stung, the majority of fleets do not require inoculation.


Click to play video: 'Truck drivers protest against the vaccine mandate at the border between Manitoba and the USA'







Truck drivers protest against the vaccine mandate at the border between Manitoba and the United States


Truck drivers protest against the vaccine mandate at the border between Manitoba and the United States

In contrast, many companies in the banking, insurance, and telecommunications sectors — all federally regulated sectors — require that employees working on site be fully vaccinated. They include the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, Sun Life, BCE Inc. and Videotron, according to their email response.

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Large companies like Air Canada boasted vaccination rates above 96 percent in November, suspending hundreds of employees who did not meet the vaccination requirement. Canada Life and Sasktel say 93 percent and 96 percent of their employees, respectively, are vaccinated, even though unvaccinated workers are allowed to take regular quick tests.

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Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, said the association can do nothing but offer training to member companies and push them to push for vaccination among their drivers.

“We pass the information on to them and then it’s up to them to pass it on to their drivers,” he said.

But Millian also said he knows of at least one 60-tractor fleet in which only two drivers have been vaccinated.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers enters into force'







COVID-19: Federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers enters into force


COVID-19: Federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers enters into force

“It’s hard to have a Plan B. I mean, of course, you’re trying to find more drivers,” he said, noting that recruitment campaigns were well underway before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“There were already 22,900 vacancies. It is not the case that there were a lot of drivers sitting on the side of the road that we could just go out and put in the trucks. ”

Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan announced on December 7 that vaccination will be mandatory for all workers in federally regulated industries, even if no timeline has been set.

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“We live in a democracy and we can disagree with the government,” said Teamsters Canada spokesman Stephane Lacroix, although he clarified that he generally supports vaccination.

“Sooner or later it becomes mandatory.”

A new internal poll conducted by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, which represents about 200 companies with truck fleets, including Tim Hortons and Home Hardware, showed that 23 percent of the 70 fleets that responded forced their drivers to be stabbed.


Click to play video: 'Vaccine mandate for truck drivers could exacerbate supply chain problems'







Vaccine mandate for truck drivers can exacerbate supply chain problems


Vaccine mandate for truck drivers can exacerbate supply chain problems

“They’re independent of nature, aren’t they? They spend most of their time in a truck cab alone out on the road,” Millian said. “They like freedom, and I think that’s part of it for sure.”

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Steele said this attitude makes it even more urgent for industry insiders, especially drivers, to argue for inoculation.

“The most convincing person to help a truck driver get a vaccination may be another truck driver, not an official in a white lab coat, not a manager of a transportation company,” he said.

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Truckers call Ottawa’s apparent vaccination flip-flop ‘poorly controlled’

“It’s friends and family that is the most effective way to overcome a large part of the vaccine resistance … The associations can be in favor, but I think it’s an obligation for individuals in that industry.”

Laurel Lennox, spokeswoman for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, said the industry has encouraged vaccinations.

“The biggest threat to supply chains is COVID – and our best tool is vaccines,” she said in an email.

“The amount of cross-border truck traffic after the mandate was used has not varied significantly,” she said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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