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Trucking crisis just the latest big bump in the road for Canada’s supply chains
Created on 8/30/2022 1:51:16 PM

Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on January 14, 2022

After an abrupt reversal and an even more abrupt un-reversal, Canada has barreled forward with plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all truck drivers crossing our southern border, despite leading businesses warnings that the mandate poses grave risks for Canadian consumers and our economy.

Canadian businesses continue to support vaccinations, but the January 15 deadline for all truckers to be vaccinated is simply unworkable. It will force an estimated 10-15% of Canadian truck drivers out of the industry, exacerbating an existing shortage of more than 20,000 drivers. The more than 70% of U.S.-Canada trade that crosses our border via truck will be caught up, leaving Canadians with fewer choices, more delays, and ultimately higher prices for the essential food and grocery products they rely on every day.

As we have learned throughout the pandemic, public health measures must be carefully crafted not to inflict harm on essential activities - and nothing could be more essential than delivering the food and grocery products Canadians rely on every day.

That’s why FHCP has joined CTA and 32 other leading associations in calling on the government to delay implementation of this rushed mandate and allow time for a transition to solutions that do not worsen cracks in our stressed supply chains.

Food, health, and consumer product manufacturers have worked tirelessly to overcome the perfect storm of disruptions putting these supply chains to the test. The pandemic, of course, slowed production, whipsawed demand, and increased persistent worker shortages. At the same time, other hits have kept on coming: extreme weather, shortages of everything from shipping containers to produce, and even a big ship stuck in a narrow canal.

Canadians are more familiar with the complex steps in supply chains than ever before, and they want government to prioritize essential manufacturing and supply chains. FHCP’s national polling has found that 82% of Canadians understand supply chain disruptions better than before the pandemic and 93% want government to prioritize essential manufacturing, investment, and supply chains.

The trucking crisis is a step in the wrong direction. Ottawa must suspend implementation and establish a joint task force with business leaders to find solutions. Canada must also redouble coordination efforts with the United States and invest overall in transportation and infrastructure.

We also need government to look beyond this crisis and finally, fully recognize manufacturing’s critical importance to all Canadians. A national manufacturing strategy would usher in real progress, as would acting on turn-key solutions that could rein in cost aggravations contributing to inflation in grocery and drugstores across the country.

There is no justification for failing to correct short and long-term constraints on Canada’s resilience and self-reliance. Together, businesses and governments can and must act to protect availability and access to the essential products Canadians need now more than ever.