New rules requiring truckers to show proof of vaccination when crossing the Canada-U.S. border are costing one of the largest Canadian trucking firms about 10 per cent of its freight capacity.
“We understood that this would be a challenge for us,” Bison Transport Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rob Penner said in a Monday interview on BNN Bloomberg Television. “We have lost close to 10 per cent of our overall capacity, with many drivers choosing to opt out prior to the deadline.”
The Canadian vaccine mandate has also caused the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company to boost wages for cross-border drivers and offer signing bonuses of $2,500 (US$2,000). Those costs have to be passed on to customers, Penner said.
Canada implemented new rules requiring border agents to turn away unvaccinated U.S. truckers on Jan. 15, a move industry executives have warned could snarl supply chains that transport products ranging from food and auto parts to building supplies between the world’s largest trading partners. Canadian truckers who can’t show proof of vaccination will be required to quarantine when they re-enter the country from the U.S.
Shipping is expected to get disrupted in both directions, with the U.S. set to impose its own vaccine mandate on foreign travelers on Jan. 22. Only 50 per cent to 60 per cent of U.S. truckers are vaccinated, according to an estimate from the American Trucking Associations.
“Their vaccination rate among truck drivers is much, much, much lower than ours, so the burden to keep our economy and our trade going falls on Canadians,” said Penner, adding that he supports mandates though doesn’t understand why they’d be applied to cross-border transportation.
Bison, which is owned by conglomerate James Richardson & Sons Ltd., has about 3,700 employees and contractors operating a fleet of 2,100 tractors and 6,000 trailers, according to its website.