The federal government is backing down from its vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers three days before it was set to take effect.
Ottawa announced in mid-November that truck drivers crossing into Canada would need to be fully vaccinated by this Saturday. But on Wednesday evening transport ministry spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy told The Canadian Press that Canadian big-riggers will not have to quarantine if they are unvaccinated or have received only one dose.
The news came as a surprise to Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski, who says industry representatives met with government officials as recently as midday and were told the mandate was still on track for Jan. 15.
Trade associations on both sides of the border had been pushing for a delay to the restriction, which they say would put additional strain on supply chains amid the latest COVID-19 surge and severe worker shortages.
The new rule will still take effect for American truckers, who will be turned away at the border unless they’ve been inoculated starting this weekend.
About 10 per cent of the 120,000 Canadian truckers who traverse the border may not have been able to work those routes because they haven’t been jabbed, according to the trucking alliance.
The transport minister’s office declined to say whether the truck drivers’ exemption is temporary or indefinite.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2022.