Company concerned about truck driver shortages due to federal vaccination policy
Proof of vaccination will be required for all truck drivers next week, but some in the industry say the mandate could sideline workers and cause further supply chain issues.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for border-crossing truck drivers starts on Jan. 15. Michael Croucher, the manager of Wayfreight Service, said the move will only exacerbate driver shortages.
"We see the writing on the wall," Croucher said. "We're already struggling and, if we put this on top, it is going to hurt."
The company, which is based in Guelph, employs 25 drivers. Four are not vaccinated.
"Being short even one driver affects us so dramatically," Croucher said.
He said 60 per cent of the company's business is now in jeopardy. Wayfreight relies on drivers to cross the border daily, delivering construction materials and bringing back consumer goods like fruits and vegetables.
"All of us here are just holding our breath," Croucher said. "There's already shelves empty in places and certain goods you can't get."
Stephen Laskowski, the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, estimates 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian truck drivers, around 22,000 workers, could be out of a job when the mandate takes effect next week.
"There are no backup truck drivers," he said. "We're currently 20,000 short."
The alliance wants the government to postpone the policy for the economy until the supply chain is less fragile.
"There's $460 billion worth of trade that moves across the Canadian-U.S. border," Laskowski said. "Seventy per cent moves by truck."
Peter Carr, a supply chain expert with the University of Waterloo, said there may be shortages in the coming weeks.
"What we're now dealing with is Omicron, and that's got its own challenges and likely to create significant difficulties," Carr said.
Croucher said his company will keep rolling along and try to encourage unvaccinated drivers to reconsider.