A quick sampling of transport truck drivers passing through Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday showed differing opinions of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers.
Hundreds of British Columbia truckers started to head east Sunday in a ‘freedom convoy’ to Ottawa to protest the vaccine mandate, planning to arrive in the nation’s capital and meet up with other truckers from eastern Canada and southern Ontario Jan. 29.
Though vaccinated, one Sault-based trucker who asked not to be identified said “I totally support them for sure. I’m against it being mandated. You’ve got people with different religions in our industry (who oppose mandated COVID-19 vaccination). People shouldn't be forced to do it.”
“I understand where they’re coming from not wanting to get vaccinated, not wanting to mandate the vaccine, especially for truckers. Truckers are living out of their trucks most of the time. They’re not really a severe health risk,” said Wasaga Beach-based independent trucker Cale Callan (though he said he personally has been vaccinated).
“I got mine. I got two. Everybody thinks they’re doctors and scientists. You’ve got to trust the people who are making these decisions. I’m for the vaccine,” said trucker Marcel Tremblay of Sarnia.
“I feel it should be an individual’s choice, not the government. Everyone should be only responsible for their own health. Whoever needs it, then get it. Truckers are on their own most of the time. I’ve got the vaccine but there are not enough studies on it,” said Calgary trucker Barem Singh.
The government’s mandate came into effect Jan. 15.
Canadian truckers must show proof of vaccination to avoid taking COVID-19 tests before reaching the border. They will also have to quarantine when they return from the U.S.
Unvaccinated U.S. truckers will not be allowed to enter.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has stated there are reports of truckers intending to leave the industry or work in the provincially regulated trucking sector due to the federal government’s vaccine mandate on cross-border truckers.
The CTA said the industry is expecting a loss of 12,000 to 16,000 cross-border commercial drivers due to this month’s mandate.
At the same time, the CTA says “the vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public. Accordingly, most of our nation’s hard-working truck drivers are continuing to move cross-border and domestic freight to ensure our economy continues to function.”