Canada is ending its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for those traveling into the country. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says the United States should do the same.
OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote to President Joe Biden on Monday, Sept. 26, calling for an end to the U.S. vaccine mandate for truck drivers traveling from Canada and Mexico.
“Since commercial drivers spend the majority of their time alone in their vehicle and outside, there is no evidence that truckers present a higher risk of spreading the virus,” Spencer wrote. “Moreover, there is no evidence that truckers have been the source of any coronavirus outbreaks within the United States, suggesting that the cross-border mandate is likely to be having little, if any, effect.”
Reports leaked last week that Canada was planning on ending its vaccine mandate. On Monday, those reports were confirmed in a news release from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government of Canada has taken a layered approach to border management to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” the agency wrote. “As the pandemic situation has continued to evolve, adjustments to border measures have been informed by the latest evidence, available data, operational considerations, and the epidemiological situation, both in Canada and internationally. Today the government of Canada announced the removal of all COVID-19 entry restrictions, as well as testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada, effective Oct. 1.”
The United States and Canada have each had mandates blocking unvaccinated foreign nationals, including truck drivers, from crossing the border. Canada’s mandate, which requires U.S. truckers to show proof of vaccination before entering the country, went into effect on Jan. 15. The U.S. mandate, which requires cross-border truckers to be vaccinated, started Jan. 22.
Throughout the mandate, OOIDA has argued that truck drivers should be exempt because they are essential workers. Canada’s action provides some momentum for ending the requirement in the U.S.
“OOIDA has always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice just like any health decision, and we have provided our members with the most up-to-date information about how they can receive COVID-19 vaccines,” the Association wrote. “But for drivers who have made a decision that doesn’t comply with the mandate, it has forced them out of business or to change their operations.
“Truckers already face difficult working conditions and must comply with an enormous regulatory burden. The United States’ cross-border vaccine mandate adds another unnecessary
obstacle for them. Even for drivers who may be in compliance, the continuance of the mandate is just another piece of government red tape for which they have to manage additional paperwork and possible delays.”
Tester letter on vaccine mandate
Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., also recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking for an end to the vaccine mandate.
“Truck drivers and the goods they transport are the lifeblood of our economy,” Tester wrote. “This is especially true in northern border states, like Montana, that have a special trading relationship with Canada. Fertilizer, hay, and other agricultural products from Canada are critical for farmers and ranchers in Montana and across America.
“Vaccine mandates for truck drivers, along with reduced hours at ports of entry, longer drive times, and a shortage of truck drivers are making it harder and more expensive for American farmers and ranchers to get the products they need.” LL