In an interview with the Toronto Star and other mainstream media this week, CTA president Stephen Laskowski explained how thousands of Canadian who won’t be vaccinated in January to meet mandates imposed by Canada and the U.S. will throw a supply chain already stretched thin into even more chaos.
“This is making a bad situation a lot worse. It’s the perfect storm,” he told The Star.
A mid-January deadline for the vaccine mandate was announced by the U.S. in mid-October. Last week, Canada announced a Jan. 15 deadline for truckers crossing into this country.
Laskowski estimates that up to 20 per cent of the 120,000 Canadian truckers who regularly cross into the U.S. might not be vaccinated by the time the deadline rolls around.
“Even if every single company gets their vaccination rates up to 90 per cent, that’s still 12,000 drivers,” said Laskowski, who’s calling on both governments to delay the deadline.
The Star article suggests those estimates are frightening to people in industries as varied as fruit and vegetable imports to auto parts manufacturing, who say it could wreak havoc on an already-reeling supply chain.
Steve Bamford, a board member of the Toronto Wholesale Produce Association, predicted the driver shortfall will push the already-rising price of fruits and vegetables even higher.
“The supply chain is already broken. You can’t take 20 per cent of the workforce out of the mix and expect it not to have a major impact,” said Bamford, a fourth-generation produce supplier.
“If there are 20 per cent fewer drivers on the job, everybody’s going to be scrambling to pay the remaining ones more,” said Bamford, adding that the increased shipping costs will be passed onto wholesale customers, and eventually to prices at your local fruit and vegetable stand.
“You have to pass those costs along, or you’d go out of business pretty quickly,” said Bamford.
For Canada’s auto parts industry, trucking is vital, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.
“Trucking is the lifeblood of our industry. Cars get shipped via rail, parts get shipped by truck,” said Volpe, who estimated that almost half of the Canadian industry’s $35 billion output crosses the border.
“This is hitting the industry at a time when supply chains are having the most difficulty they’ve had in a hundred years,” said Volpe.
“This isn’t just a trucking industry issue. This is a North American economy issue. Every single sector will be affected, from manufacturing, to electronics, to food and auto parts.”