Erin O'Toole urges accommodations for unvaccinated Canadians amid Omicron wave
OTTAWA — Canadians unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be accommodated through measures like rapid testing, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Thursday as health experts warned the lightning-fast spread of the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm hospitals. © Provided by The Canadian Press Ontario is reporting an uptick in hospitalizations and days ago made the decision to keep school-aged kids learning from home for at least two weeks, which Doug Ford's government said was to take pressure off the health-care system.
© Provided by Calgary Herald Traffic backs up at the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, on March 20, 2020, during the early days of the pandemic.
Reese Evans said a looming cross-border vaccine mandate is costing his trucking company up to 20 per cent of its drivers.
That’s a time when worker shortages have already “cobwebbed” about a quarter of the Lethbridge-area hauler’s fleet that specializes in hauling raw materials between the U.S. and Canada.
“There are some major, major repercussions about to happen from this,” said Evans.
Starting Saturday , Canada will require all truckers entering from the U.S. to be fully vaccinated or be required to enter a 14-day quarantine. The mandate is the first policy measure taken since the pandemic began that could limit cross-border trucking traffic.
All-round protection Before all virus variants: US Army tests the super vaccine against Corona!
creates the US military the decisive step in the fight against the Corona pandemic? A research institute of the US military tests a corona vaccine that should protect against infections with a variety of virus variants. Phase 1 studies in humans have already taken place, it was said from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (Wrair). © Provided by Berliner Kurier There, the spike ferritin Nanoparticle (SPFN) Corona vaccine was developed.
Evans says the measure will not only impact his industry, but consumers will also pay the price.
“Freight rates have already gone up 20 to 30 per cent in the past six months and it’s going to be going up a lot more,” said Evans.
“Who’s going to be paying for that? Consumers. It’s going to be crazy.”
Albertans can expect to pay more for cross-border goods ranging from groceries to building materials, he said.
And those challenges involving a tenuous supply chain will only grow, he said, when the U.S. implements its own vaccine mandate for commercial truckers heading south across its border on Jan. 22.
Both countries will turn back foreign drivers who aren’t fully immunized.
Unvaccinated drivers are fleeing companies like his to try their luck in the domestic market but with a population of just 38 million people, there’s only so much demand for them, said Evans.
Feds drop trucker vaccine mandate, fourth dose questions : In The News for Jan. 13
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 13 What we are watching in Canada Only days before Canadian truck drivers were required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to get into the country or face quarantine, the federal government is backing away from the vaccine mandate. The new rule will still take effect for American truckers starting this weekend, with drivers being turned away at the border unless they've been inoculated.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance says there’s already a shortage of about 18,000 drivers in an industry that’s having difficulty replacing aging and retiring operators with new blood.
Another 10 per cent of the cross-border workforce, or 16,000 drivers, could be curbed by the mandate, it says.
The federal government estimates five per cent of drivers will be impacted and that the effect of the rule will be modest.
Ottawa’s new mandate reversing 22 months of policy that exempted cross-border commercial from such restrictions as essential will only squeeze the industry further, along with consumers dealing with the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades, says the sector and its clients.
The Petroleum Services Association of Canada is calling for the federal government to delay implementing the new rules, saying it’ll further pressure supply chains and equipment movement.
Provinces, territories vary on lifting COVID-19 health restrictions
Some areas of the country are easing pandemic restrictions while others are tightening them depending on their perceptions of whether the COVID-19 curve is flattening or has yet to peak. Quebec announced its controversial 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be lifted on Monday because researchers there believe the latest wave of the pandemic, fuelled by COVID-19's highly infectious Omicron variant, is cresting. And Nunavut says the tough measures it implemented just before Christmas have been so effective that it's cancelling travel restrictions on Monday, allowing businesses to reopen and schools will resume in-person learning on Jan. 24.
“The implementation of vaccination mandates for cross-border truck drivers will only aggravate things further and add to the strain on an industry that has already faced significant adversity over the last few years,” the group said in a statement.
“The Petroleum Services Association of Canada calls on the government to delay the deadline for mandatory vaccination and work to find a revised timeline that minimizes labour and supply chain impacts.”
An Alberta food distributor said he expects changes at the border to worsen a “horribly broken” supply chain and lead to higher grocery bills.
“I’m sure it will (increase prices) but it could be a good excuse to take a couple more points (of profit) in the market,” said Spencer Robertson of Wild Rose Foodservice Distributors Inc.
But in the face of the wildly infectious Omicron variant, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is standing firm on the need to quickly tighten border restrictions to slow the disease’s spread.
Chris Nash wouldn’t say plugging COVID-19 holes at the border is pointless given the wholesale spread of COVID-19 throughout Canada.
Djokovic's deportation exposes Australian border debate
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted Novak Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to a tennis tournament in their country without being vaccinated. But the backdrop to the government's tough line on the defending Australian Open champion — and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a “decision to keep our borders strong” — dates to nearly a decade ago. It also shines a light on Australia's complicated, and strongly criticized, immigration and border policies.
But the president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association said Ottawa should at least hold off on its new immunization mandate in an industry that’s still essential, and hurting. © Gavin Young/Postmedia Trucks parked at the Road King truck stop in Calgary on April 2, 2020.
“We definitely support the value of getting the jab but we haven’t reached everyone in the industry,” he said, adding he suspects there’s a large percentage of unvaccinated truck drivers in Alberta than the national average.
With 4,000 commercial driver vacancies in Alberta, there was a reduction of about 4,600 class one drivers’ licence holders from 2019 to 2020, said Nash.
“Almost all of those were under the age of 55,” he said.
A lot of that was driven by COVID-19 hardships on the road that only added to the stigma of driving a big commercial vehicle, said Nash.
While the main Alberta border crossing to the U.S. at Coutts sees about 800 commercial trucks a day, a relatively small number compared to entry points in B.C. and eastern Canada, he said the province will be impacted by delays and traffic reductions from those places, as well.
And carriers will become more selective in what loads they haul, causing consumer shortages for some goods more than others, he added.
“They won’t have the drivers so they’ll have to choose — it’s almost a pick-your-failure point,” he said.
“Whoever buys the most will get the most attention.”
Speaking from his Lethbridge-area office, Reese Evans insisted no workers, including commercial drivers, should lose the choice to be immunized or not.
And he’s counting on the federal government to relent on its incoming immunization regime, just as other governments have with its diminishing ranks of health-care workers.
“We need nurses and I’m hoping we see the same thing,” said Evans.
Public Health Agency of Canada involved in 'error' on trucker vaccine rules: CP sources .
Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency — including the one that co-ordinates Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trucking industry was caught by surprise on Jan. 12 when the Canada Border Services Agency sent a statement to media saying that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated truck drivers crossing into Canada from the United States would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate which was expected to come into force last weekend.