Trucking companies expect gaps on store shelves with new rules for unvaccinated drivers

Simcoe County trucking companies believe gaps on store shelves and financial pressures are on the way as new rules for unvaccinated drivers take effect at the Canada-U.S. border.

Starting Saturday, Canadian truck drivers who aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to Canada. They will also be subject to testing and other requirements.

With the pandemic dragging on, the founder and president of Utopia's Darunco Specialized sees the move as "necessary evil" and one that could have serious consequences.

"If you're not crossing, where are we getting the goods? Manufacturing isn't local anymore. It's globalized. So where it's going to hurt is we're going to end up with shortages," said Darryl Rutherford.

Drivers with Innisfil's Chantler Transport bring everything from auto parts to medical supplies across the border.

Safety and Compliance Manager Helen Milne feels the quarantine rules are wrong-headed at a time where the supply chain is already stretched thin.

Eight of Chantler's unvaccinated drivers have been sidelined by the policy.

Milne said those drivers are now forced to consider looking for different work late in their careers because quarantining won't be worth their financial while.

"They get paid by the mile. So it's not feasible for them to come home and isolate for 14 days," Milne said.

Rutherford is limiting his only unvaccinated driver to Canadian jobs, but he worries about competition for loads with other unvaccinated drivers.

"To move my truck and move my driver, I'm going to have to go for a cheaper rate," Rutherford said.

The changes are a frustration for an industry that has struggled to attract new blood as drivers continue to face challenges using public bathrooms or finding food and drink because of closures and restrictions.

"We have an ageing driver force. We have a huge shortage in drivers. And U.S. drivers are few and far between to begin with," finished Milne.