Truckers in U.S., Canada Warn Supply Chain Crisis To Get Worse Over Vax Mandate
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion
Truckers’ alliances in both the United States and Canada are warning that a supply chain that is already encumbered with serious problems is about to get a lot worse amid vaccine mandates in both countries.
“The main trucking lobbies in Canada and the United States are warning that vaccine and testing requirements for workers will further disrupt supply chains because there is already a dire shortage of drivers,” Newsmax Finance reported Friday.
The outlet adds:
Canada will require vaccines for truck drivers starting in January, while the Biden administration has issued rules requiring truck drivers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
More than two-thirds of goods traded between Canada and the United States travels on roads and highways. For most of the pandemic, truckers crossed the border regularly as they were considered essential workers to keep supply chains flowing.
Interestingly, while vaccines were still in development last year, truck drivers were considered essential workers — and heroes who were honored by then-President Donald Trump — as they continued to deliver goods and products to American consumers despite uncertainties over COVID-19.
Now, however, they, like equally heroic healthcare workers during the pandemic, are being forced out of their jobs, in essence, because they oppose a vaccine for a virus that has a minuscule death rate.
“We know that there already is disruption in the supply chain; this is going to intensify it,” said Stephen Laskowski, president and chief executive of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), which represents roughly 4,500 transporters.
Estimates by the associations indicate that between 10-20 percent (12,000-22,000) Canadian truckers and around 40 percent (16,000) U.S. truck drivers who travel into Canada will be sidelined if the vaccine requirements take effect.
The Canadian requirement seems on pace to go into effect, but federal courts in the United States have blocked President Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees, though White House officials have continued to urge businesses to implement the requirement anyway.
“This is not a trucking issue. This is a Canada-U.S. economic issue,” Laskowski told Reuters, noting further that around 70 percent of C$650 billion ($507 billion) in U.S.-Canada trade moves by truck.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), together with others, is seeking to block U.S. President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate in court.
Supply chain problems caused by the pandemic has contributed to inflation in both countries rising to decades-high levels.
“Given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, (it) could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy,” noted ATA President and CEO Chris Spear in a statement.
In written remarks sent to the Labor Department, the ATA said the nation’s transportation companies could lose up to 37% of their drivers to “retirements, attrition to smaller carriers and/or conversion to independent contractor owner-operators.”
That is substantial, the ATA said, because truck drivers carry about 70 percent of all U.S. freight tonnage.
“We’ll be seeing shortages of goods in stores” if the vaccine requirement deadline is not delayed, said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The news about reduced trucking capacity comes amid other bad economic data reported in the U.S. on Friday.
“The Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday that payrolls in November rose by just 210,000, well below the 550,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists,” Fox Business reported.
“It marked the worst month for job creation so far this year. The unemployment rate (which is calculated based on a separate survey) dropped more than expected to 4.2% from 4.6% — the lowest level since the pandemic began,” the outlet continued.
“Today’s employment report is doubly disappointing because the reference week occurred just as it looked like COVID was on the retreat,” Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist, told Fox Business. “This was a moment for people to return to malls and to return to work. The COVID-related news has only gotten worse since then.”