Truckers Fighting Vaccine Mandate Head to Canada’s Capital

(Reuters) – A convoy of truckers began their march from Vancouver to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, on Sunday to protest against the government’s mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine for truckers, which the industry said would create shortages of drivers and fuel inflation.

Truckers under the Freedom Convoy 2022 banner had raised C$2.7 million ($2.2 million) on Sunday through a gofundme campaign to fight the mandate. Funds raised would be used to help cover fuel, food and accommodation costs, the gofundme page said. The convoy is expected to reach Ottawa on January 29.

The trucking industry is essential to ensure the smooth flow of goods since more than two thirds of the 650 billion Canadian dollars of goods exchanged annually between Canada and the United States travels on the roads.

But up to 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truckers could be taken off the roads because of the mandate, estimates the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

The CTA, however, said in a statement on Saturday that it did not support any protests on public roads and that the only way to cross the border on a commercial truck was to get vaccinated.

Canada imposed the Vaccination Mandate for the Trucking Industry starting Jan. 15, under which unvaccinated Canadian truckers returning to Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and put themselves in quarantine.

Driver shortages are also expected to fuel searing inflation, which is at its highest level in three decades, industry lobby groups have said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted industry pressure to delay the mandate since it was first announced in November.

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