News of the trucker vaccine mandate has reached far beyond the trade community. But as importers look to protect their bottom lines into 2022, we’ll be taking a closer look at the food supply chain, along with predictions for what the future holds, post-trucker vaccine mandate.

Prior to implementation, there were already concerns of what issues and restrictions might come about as a result of the mandate. The mandate, more specifically, is as follows: truckers making entry from the US into Canada must show proof of vaccine during the goods movement process. Without proof of vaccine, truckers will be required to quarantine for 14 days. This certainly has implications for already fragile supply chains.

In a report by journalist Sylvain Charlebois, he states:

“According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, about 16,000 drivers could be forced off the road. Ottawa believes only 8,000 drivers will be impacted, not 16,000. Still, we need these drivers right now, more than ever, and many of them transport food products across the border every single day.”

Canada currently imports around $21 billion in food and agricultural products and 70% of that arrives via trucks. With an already dire driver shortage, supply chain results could be disastrous. The food that arrives on these trucks accounts for roughly 20% of the food people buy in Canada.

If the issue continues, we might end up with a situation where table costs might be increased due to the lack of products in the stores. A worrying situation, considering the current socio-economic climate.

trucker vaccine mandate

As we mentioned, the industry is dealing with a shortage of drivers, they need around 18k drivers on the streets and the vaccine mandate will make things much more difficult. Generally, long-distance truck driving is not a very attractive sector and many truckers are independent.

Food security problems like this can end up being a challenge, and addressing these problems adequately is a crucial thing to keep in mind. It’s definitely a massive and demanding situation, and in the end addressing it properly can indeed make a huge difference all the time. 

Omicron, the latest coronavirus variant is already hugely affecting supply chains and not having food products in stores will certainly add to this. Charlebois continues:

“Omicron is already disrupting the entire food chain in Canada. Absenteeism rates are at least 15 to 20 per cent in food retail, and processing is seeing similar numbers. In fact, one plant, Exceldor in Quebec, was forced to euthanize chickens in recent weeks due to low staff numbers. Many workers are either sick or were exposed to someone who was sick.”

The impact across the entire supply chain has yet to be fully modeled, and therefore predictions are difficult to make at this time. Our priorities should rest on solution-oriented thinking for how we’ll adapt to the system in order to help supply chains.

The lack of truckers was already a problem, now having reliable truckers forced off the street due to a lack of vaccination is only going to impede supply chains even more. But with the pandemic not going away, it’s more important than ever to adhere to new measures to protect public health and adapt appropriately.

For updates on this situation, continue to check back with Clearit’s blog, as we’ll be covering the situation as it progresses. There are currently many unknowns around the trucker mandate, and so far, a compromise has not been reached. To stay informed, it’s best to stay connected with a customs broker.