One of the leading trucker advocacy groups today asked the leaders of U.S. and Canada to exempt drivers from each country's COVID vaccination mandates for crossing the border.
In letters to President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Owner-Operators Independent Driver Association asked truck drivers to be excluded from the mandates requiring vaccinations when crossing the border between the two countries. Canada enacted the vaccination requirement Jan. 15 and the U.S. ban took effect Jan. 22.
The letters come as trucker-inspired protests have filled the streets of several major Canadian cities and similar protests are said to be taking shape in the U.S.
In the letters to Biden and Trudeau, the OOIDA said, "Since January 15th, the new requirements for essential service providers have impeded trade and commerce between the U.S. and Canada."
The organization also said drivers and consumers in both countries are placed in difficult positions because of the vaccination mandate. In the letters, OOIDA said:
"An arbitrary vaccine mandate should not prevent hard-working men and women from earning a living.
"Many drivers have elected not to operate cross-border under the new rules, while others continue to experience excessive wait times at border entry points because of the new protocols. This has intensified existing challenges facing North American freight networks and the supply chain and has resulted in higher prices for consumers.
OOIDA praised Biden and Trudeau for some of their efforts to combat the continued spread of COVID but said the vaccination requirement was too much of a burden for truckers.
"We support efforts from your administration to combat the spread of COVID-19, however, we cannot endorse short-sighted policies that disrupt commerce, put truckers out of work, and create shortages for essential supplies. Rather than imposing a heavy-handed mandate on the trucking workforce who has delivered time and time again for both U.S. and Canadian citizens, your administration must find less intrusive alternatives that can enhance public safety and foster trade between the U.S. and Canada."
OOIDA's letters did not reference the protests that have taken place in Canada.
What started as a convoy of truckers protesting the vaccination mandate has turned into large-scale, anti-government dissent that has disrupted much of daily life in downtown Ottawa, Canada's capital city. It has also spread to other large cities in that country, and drawn support from former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters. On Saturday, Feb. 5, about 100 truckers held a convoy in sympathy with drivers in Canada.
A group of Ottawa citizens has filed a class-action suit against protesters claiming idling trucks and the frequent blowing of truck horns are endangering their well-being. A state of emergency has been declared in Ottawa.