The notion of vaccine mandates for truckers is “just another slap in the face and an insult to people who are smart enough to see that this is not working,” says Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins.
“We have never stopped COVID from coming across our borders, and to pull truckers off the road who are providing vital services to Canadians is the wrong answer,” Calkins said in his MP report Friday.
“Regardless of what you think about mandatory vaccination, we need our truckers to get food on the shelves, as well as medicine, clothing and all the essentials we need in our day to day lives.”
A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from the United States came into effect Jan. 15.
With this mandate, Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a pre-arrival molecular test, while unvaccinated American big-riggers are to be turned back at the border.
As a result, a group of truckers organized a “Freedom Convoy,” travelling from Vancouver to Ottawa, which started Sunday. Social media posts show hundreds of local supporters gathered in Red Deer Sunday night to show their support for the convoy. Another convoy is set to leave from Enfield, Nova Scotia on Jan. 27. Organizers have called for truckers from across Canada to join.
The president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, Stephen Laskowski, says the application of the mandate could potentially cause some slowdowns at the border if unvaccinated truckers have to turn their big rigs around.
Up to 26,000 of 160,000 truckers who make regular cross-border trips will be sidelined, adding further bottlenecks and potential price hikes to the flow of goods into the country, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
“Further delay in an already struggling supply chain will only result in empty grocery store shelves and increased prices for consumers. My priority is to ensure food, goods and services are delivered to the store shelves,” said Calkins.
“There are basic certainties that Canadians expect from this government, and the Conservative Party is holding the Liberals to account on failing to provide leadership. It is not leadership to turn people against other people; leadership is solving problems, or at the very least, not contributing to them.”
—With files from The Canadian Press