Truckers are raising the alarm over how vaccine mandates could drastically impact supply chains when the industry already faces a shortage of drivers. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that cross-border truck drivers will have to be vaccinated beginning in January 2022. US President Joe Biden has brought in a similar policy, requiring the employees of large trucking outfits and other companies to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing. 

Stephen Laskowski, President and Chief Executive of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), spoke out against the policy Friday.

“We know that there already is disruption in the supply chain; this is going to intensify it,” said Laskowski. “This is not a trucking issue. This is a Canada-U.S. economic issue.” 

Approximately 70% of US-Canada trade moves by truck, Laskowski noted. 

The CTA represents over 4,500 truck drivers. According to the organization, up to 20% of Canadian truck drivers and up to 40% of US truck drivers would be affected by the mandate

According to Lakowski, the Canadian trucking industry is already short 18,000 drivers.

In the US, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and other groups have taken President Biden’s mandate to court with some success.

In November, the US appeals court ordered a temporary stay to the mandate after finding that “all else equal, a 28 year-old trucker spending the bulk of his workday in the solitude of his cab is simply less vulnerable to COVID-19 than a 62-year-old prison janitor.”

Following the decision, the Justice Department has taken the matter to another court asking for the temporary stay to be thrown out. 

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear offers a similar warning about the mandate.

“Given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, (it) could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy,” Spear said.

Others, including the President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Perrin Beatty, have also warned that the mandates will mean emptier shelves. 

“We’ll be seeing shortages of goods in stores,” said Beatty. 

Throughout the pandemic, truckers have been considered essential workers and have been allowed to cross the border regardless of their vaccination status.