Ever-growing mandates to vaccinate essential workers – by both private companies and governments – are causing severe shortages in an already depleted workforce.
This is especially true in the supply chain, where labor shortages are common in shipping, air, rail and, of course, truckers. On October 30, the federal government’s first phase of its mandatory vaccination program for federally regulated workers in the air, rail and marine industries began and will come into full effect on November 30.
From this date, if you are not doubly vaccinated, you will not be able to work in these three sectors, with some limited exemptions.
To date, ground transportation workers, including professional truck drivers, have been exempt from this requirement. While Canadian governments have exempted essential ground transport workers from vaccination requirements, many private companies have not. In an industry that, according to a recent Trucking HR Canada survey, has 18,000 vacant positions, any reduction in the workforce is extremely problematic.
To be clear, personally, and the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, fully support people who get vaccinated. We believe in the science and the medical experts who tell us that vaccinations are our best way out of this pandemic.
We encourage anyone who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible. That said, no matter how much we encourage it, a certain percentage of the population will not be fully immunized.
While this may be unfortunate, it is a reality. Recent figures from Health Canada indicate that 84.25% of the eligible population has been fully immunized. If we assume that these numbers can be applied to the truck driver workforce, that means any client or government vaccine mandate will eliminate around 16% of the eligible workforce.
Canada employs about 300,000 truck drivers, which means 48,000 drivers could be out of work. While you may not have sympathy for someone who chooses not to be vaccinated, are you ready for the effect it will have on your life?
Throughout the pandemic, drivers continued to work to ensure that the goods we needed – when many of us were safe in the area – were there for us. Drivers provide fuel for our vehicles, heating fuels for our homes, food, medicine, blood, medical supplies and many other essentials that we need, as well as the non-essentials that we are. regulars.
Drivers, by the very nature of their work, are isolated most of the day. They are isolated in their truck, and in many cases when making deliveries, hardly come into direct contact with anyone. The paperwork is done either electronically or through other physical distancing measures.
Additionally, the transportation industry has implemented numerous protocols since the start of the pandemic to ensure the safety of its workforce, and as a result, very limited spread of Covid-19 has been attributed to drivers. .
There was a time when every time we went to the store everything we needed was there, the shelves and supplies were full. In our pandemic world, almost every time we go to a store we see an empty shelf, waiting to be restocked.
While a large portion of these shortages are the result of supply chain issues that do not involve a driver, a significant portion of the shortages is still attributed to an empty truck waiting for a driver to fill it. You think we have shortage issues now, wait until we cut 15-20% of the workforce.
To make matters worse, the US Department of Homeland Security recently announced that starting in January, essential workers entering the United States by land will also need to provide proof of dual vaccination to enter.
This includes truck drivers. Seventy percent of the $ 700 billion in trade between Canada and the United States is transported by truck. About 120,000 Canadians are involved in cross-border movements and 40,000 American drivers.
Based on vaccination figures in both countries, we are likely to see approximately 20,000 Canadian drivers and 16,000 US drivers removed from the cross-border freight industry.
This will have a dramatic effect on the supplies and services that arrive at their destinations and fall into the hands of those who need them.
In an age where our supply chain is already disrupted, removing so many workers from the most critical stage of the supply chain is simply not something we can afford.
Do you think that’s hyperbole? One should look no further than the recent fuel shortage in the UK, where the military had to be mobilized to deliver fuel due to the lack of truck drivers. If the shortage includes food, blood, medicine, or medical supplies, we really have a problem.
If you are concerned about the vaccination mandates for truck drivers, I encourage you to contact your local MPP or MPP to voice your concerns. To raise concerns about the US DHS mandate for essential travel vaccines, contact Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security at [email protected], and Deborah W. Meyers, Director, Canadian Affairs, Department American Homeland Security at [email protected]