The federal government is standing by its vaccine mandate for truck drivers and will require that unvaccinated Canadian drivers undergo testing and quarantine upon entry into the country.
A joint statement released Thursday from Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers will have to meet pre-entry, arrival and Day 8 testing requirements, as well as quarantine upon entry into Canada.
The statement comes after it was reported that the federal government had backtracked on its vaccine mandate and would provide an exemption for Canadian truck drivers. The Canada Border Services Agency told reporters on Wednesday evening that it would not require unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers to quarantine when they re-enter the country. The mandate would still apply to foreign truck drivers entering into Canada, with the United States preparing to impose similar restrictions on Canadian truckers on Jan. 22.
But the government said on Thursday that the rules, which are set to go into effect on Saturday, have not changed.
"The information shared yesterday was provided in error," the government said.
"As announced in November and as we've communicated with the industry recently, starting January 15, unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers entering into Canada will need to meet requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day 8 testing, as well as quarantine requirements."
Industry groups have warned the government that a vaccine requirement for truck drivers would create added pressure on an already-strained supply chains.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said in a statement released this week that it expects the vaccine mandate will exacerbate vacancies in the industry. The group said the trucking job vacancy rate hit a record high 8 per cent in the third quarter of 2021, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2021.
Up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular cross-border trips could be sidelined as a result, adding further bottlenecks and potential price hikes to the flow of goods ranging from produce to auto parts and medical devices, say the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations.
With files from the Canadian Press
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.