Cross-border truckers face fast approaching vaccine deadline

By Brent Cater

The vaccine mandate is coming up quick for cross-border truckers.

Mike Millian, the President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, said the mandate that kicks in January 15, requires all transport drivers that cross between country borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Millian said the mandate will have a big impact.

“It’s important that people know how many people are involved in cross-border trade,” he said. “There's 120,000 Canadian truck drivers that operate into the U.S., and then bring loads from the US back into Canada.”

“And there are 40,000 US drivers that bring load from the US into Canada, and then go back in the other direction.”

With those numbers in mind, Millian stressed this new mandate could result in a number of jobs lost in the industry.

“According to our survey right now, we're going to be looking at roughly 25 per cent of the Canadian truck driving workforce that operates in cross-border trade not being vaccinated,” he said. “And as a result, will basically be removed from the industry on Saturday.”

Millian made a point to say his organization is in favor of vaccination, and there's been numerous talks with governments.

But he cautions that may not be enough.

“Our association is in favour of vaccines,” he said. “We're not anti-vaxxers, we want people to get vaccinated.”

“I'm vaccinated, (and) we encourage our members to get vaccinated. We do believe it’s the best way out of this, but no matter how hard we try, we are never going to hit 100 per cent of vaccinations.”

Millian emphasized the importance of truckers, and why the industry can't afford to lose workers.

“These drivers deliver medical gases to hospitals, they deliver the oxygen that you need if you're in the ICU, they deliver blood, they deliver the vaccines that we want everybody to get,” he said. “They deliver the food that we need, the fuel that we need for our houses to heat our homes.”

Millian noted the need to be wary with a mandate like this, when providing no alternatives.

“We have to be careful that a mandate that we're putting in place like this that doesn’t require, doesn’t supply any other option,” he said, adding a call for a testing option for those that won't get vaccinated.

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