Collectively, the trucking industry, various levels of government and the medical community have worked cooperatively in effectively managing the spread of COVID-19 and limiting the infection rate relative to other sectors while ensuring the essential goods and products Canadians rely on continue to move.
COVID-19 spreading among trucking company employees has been extremely minimal – in fact, non-existent for many. Contact tracing as well as COVID health and safety protocols developed by the industry are working well and promoted extensively throughout the supply chain.
Results of this effectiveness in preventing the spread of the disease can be seen in various industry-government COVID testing pilots/checkpoints throughout 2020-2021.
CTA is very supportive of the voluntary COVID testing approach for truck drivers by provinces and the federal government and encourages the federal government to continue exploring the idea of forming voluntary test sites drivers can access easily away from busy ports of entry, such as truck stops and rest areas. CTA is not supportive of mandatory COVID testing of truck drivers (at the border).
CTA is also reminding the public that the working life of a long-haul truck driver is very different than a Canadian citizen travelling through the US in a personal vehicle for non-essential work. The job of a truck driver is mostly self-isolating by nature, as many commercial drivers travelling through the U.S. over several days have very limited contact with others and many forms of contactless deliveries have been implemented throughout the supply chain throughout the crisis. A driver’s truck is also their home, where they eat and sleep.
Furthermore, all truck drivers are currently being screened by border officials for COVID-19 symptoms upon re-entry into Canada.
In recent statements regarding the border and COVID-19 testing, the Government of Canada recognized the need to ensure supply chains are not negatively impacted. To secure the supply chain, the federal government recently announced that truck drivers are exempt from mandatory COVID-19 testing, which took effect this week. CTA strongly supports this position by the Government of Canada to exempt truck drivers.
Nearly, 30,000 trucks a day cross the Canada-US border daily carrying close to $3 billion in trade per day, much of which are essential goods like food, medical products and household supplies. Many of these border crossings would not be able to handle a testing system nor the ability to turn around loads for a failure to submit a negative COVID-test.
Congestion at the ports could be extreme, resulting in the supply chain experiencing significant strain leading to potential fulfillment issues across multiple sectors. Many drivers could run out of hours-of-service, resulting in further delays and trucks parked at the side of roads, which creates safety issues. Canadian-US customers who rely on trucks crossing the border multiple times a day could see their businesses negatively impacted.
Canadian truck drivers have been seen as heroes for keeping our country and economy moving throughout this pandemic. Canadian trucking companies and the drivers themselves, working with all levels of government, have worked hard to implement measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19 in the trucking sector. It’s worked.
CTA looks forward to working with all levels of government to ensure that voluntary COVID-19 testing away from border points continue to be made available for drivers and hard-working essential workers receive the vaccine when the medical community and provincial officials determine it’s appropriate.