Mega Carrier CEO Issues Dire Warning as Canada’s New Cross-Border Rules Set to Begin
Winnipeg, MB — A mega carrier CEO is issuing a dire warning as Canada’s new vaccination, testing and quarantine rules are set to go into effect for cross-border truckers.
After a flurry of media reports to the contrary, Canadian transportation officials say cross-border truckers WILL be subject to the draconian requirements forcing drivers to provide proof of vaccination.
As part of the mandate set to go into effect on Saturday, January 15, unvaccinated Canadian drivers returning from the U.S. will be required to quarantine for 14 days as well as to complete a testing protocol, while unvaccinated U.S. drivers seeking entry will be turned away.
Rob Penner, CEO of Winnipeg, MB-based carrier Bison Transport and past chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association, tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) imposing the mandate on the trucking community is a “slap in the face” given the way the truckers have kept the country moving during the pandemic.
Penner, who leads a fleet of approximately 2,600 trucks — with more than 1,000 trucks now operating in the U.S. and doing cross-border work following the recent acquisition of Bangor, ME-based Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc. — warned of serious economic consequences for consumers and businesses on both sides of the border.
“It is unfortunate that despite our best efforts, we could not get the federal government of Canada to understand the economic harm of this decision,” he told TNN late Thursday. “This serves no one and punishes every consumer, manufacturer and retailer.”
Further, he fears truck drivers who do not want to comply will simply leave the industry.
“This pushes people into other jobs or out of the workplace altogether, not into vaccination lines,” he declared.
According to a recent Reuters report, Canadian officials expect as much as 5% of the country’s driving force to quit as a result of its COVID-19 policies.
“If we lose even 5% of those drivers due to this policy there will be major supply chain disruptions and this will continue to drive up inflation on both sides of the border as we continue to put self inflicted bottlenecks in the supply chain,” Penner told TNN.
To Penner’s point, late last year the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the country’s largest trucking group, announced the jarring results of a survey of its members.
CTA indicated 20% of the 120,000 Canadian truck drivers crossing the border (22,000), and 40% of the 40,000 U.S. cross-border truck drivers (16,000), will “almost immediately exit” the Canada-U.S. trade system if these requirements are not delayed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is set to implement a vaccination mandate for foreign cross-border truckers on January 22, 2022.
Despite repeated warnings from supply chain experts, the Biden Administration is showing no signs it will cancel or delay the requirements.
As inflation surges to its highest levels in four decades and social media is littered with photos of empty grocery store shelves, this will be an issue TransportationNation.com will continue to track closely.