‘It’s going to cause a shortage’: Concerns raised in Alberta following vaccine mandate for truckers

It’s been a week since the Canadian government claims it made a mistake when it said it would allow an exemption for Canadian truck drivers on its vaccine mandate plan.

Now that the system is in place, Canadian truckers are planning a cross-country convoy to protest at Parliament Hill.

Several industries are also voicing their concerns over how the policy will hurt the already struggling supply chain, and make products more expensive.

Lethbridge Mitsubishi would typically have around 200 new vehicles for sale on their lot this time of year, but right now, they have just 15. The sales manager fears the vaccine mandate for truckers will only add to the problem.

“It’s going to cause a shortage, not just on vehicle supplies, but all over,” said Mitsubishi sales manager, Rich Gharzeddine.

“All kinds of supplies are going to face a shortage in Canada, especially Alberta because we’re close to the border, but we’ll see how it goes.”

The shortage of new vehicles is also jacking up the price of pre-owned models.

“Instead of buying the vehicle for lets say $10,000, now you have to pay $15,000 to be able to get it, and it’s been tough,” said Gharzeddine.

“All the dealerships want one vehicle, and everybody’s bidding higher than what the black book is, and a little bit higher than we’re supposed to sell, but that’s what the market is right now.”

The lumber industry is also being pinched. A shortage is causing prices to skyrocket, and president of the Western Retail Lumber Association says the vaccine mandate for truckers will have significant impacts on both available inventory and cost.

“We’ve already seen a huge impact in terms of material that’s being stopped at the border, or not able to cross,” said Liz Kovach.

“Part of the issue is I don’t really think we realize how many truck drivers are from the U.S., and we’re going to learn that over the next little bit.”

After chatting with one of her members, Kovach said she’s been made aware of some pretty daunting statistics in the trucking industry.

“One driver who had been working for the same company for over 30 years told me that his company went from 30 drivers to just six,” said Kovach.

“Typically they’d be shipping cedar roughly two to three truck loads a week, now they’re lucky if they get one delivered right now. To have 24 trucks sitting idle right now is just devastating, and that’s just one company.”

Going forward, Kovach wants to see more clarity between the government and industries after last week’s flip-flop on whether truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border would need proof of vaccination.

“We really need to start having policy makers really have these conversations with industry before the policies are implemented, just so that there’s a better understanding of what the implications are going to be.”

A group of truck drivers from all over Canada will be headed to Ottawa to protest the vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers.

Within a few days, a crowdfunding effort for the Freedom Convoy raised $700,000 to help pay for fuel, accommodations and meals.

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