Sixteen governors and two Canadian premiers on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reinstate COVID-19 vaccination exemptions for cross-border truckers.
Failing to reinstate the exemptions will worsen the supply chain pain, the governors and premiers said in a letter.
“We are deeply concerned that terminating these exemptions has had demonstrably negative impacts on the North American supply chain, the cost of living, and access to essential products for people in both of our countries,” they wrote.
The leaders also criticized Biden and Trudeau for terminating the exemptions at a bad time.
“The timing of your decision to terminate the vaccine and quarantine exemptions could not have been worse, as North America already faces grave supply chain constraints,” read the letter.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and 16 Republican governors signed the letter.
The U.S. governors who joined the petition include those from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.
The letter was also forwarded to U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen and his counterpart Kirsten Hillman, the Canadian ambassador to the United States.
The Epoch Times reached out to the White House and Trudeau’s office for comments.
Read the full letter:
Dear President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau,
We are writing to request that you immediately reinstate the vaccine and quarantine exemptions available to cross border truck drivers. We understand the vital importance of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19 and continue to encourage eligible individuals to get vaccinated. However, we are deeply concerned that terminating these exemptions has had demonstrably negative impacts on the North American supply chain, the cost of living, and access to essential products for people in both of our countries.
The timing of your decision to terminate the vaccine and quarantine exemptions could not have been worse, as North America already faces grave supply chain constraints. These constraints, combined with increasing inflation, place significant burdens on the residents of Canada and the United States. Furthermore, transportation associations have informed us that the lack of exemptions will force thousands of drivers out of the trucking industry, which is already facing a significant workforce shortage. The removal of these exemptions is ultimately unnecessary, and we cannot afford to lose any more truck drivers who transport food and other vital supplies across the border.
Again, we urge you to immediately reinstate the exemptions for cross border truck drivers. We welcome collaboration to resolve this urgent matter.
The governors and premiers penned the letter after Canadian and American truckers participated in the Freedom Convoy 2022 for weeks and as American truckers prepare to take similar actions in the United States.
The Canadian government announced back in early January that all truckers entering Canada must show proof of COVID vaccination starting from Jan. 15. On the U.S. side, the Biden administration announced a similar requirement effective from Jan. 22.
Trucking companies and industrial groups expressed concern that the vaccination requirement will exacerbate supply chain problems and urged leaders from both sides to reconsider it.
“We’re asking both countries to work together to remove their foreign national (vaccine) mandate and look for a better date to put this in place,” Stephen Laskowski, president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations told Reuters on Jan. 13.
Right after the Trudeau government’s announcement, Canadian truckers started Freedom Convoy 2022. They gathered in Ottawa to protest and blocked several crossings between Canada and the United States for days.
As the record-breaking convoy passed through numerous cities, they were greeted with long rows of people cheering and holding Canadian flags, with some shooting off fireworks.
Trudeau declared a state of emergency on Monday to confront the truckers and end the protest. It’s the first time the Emergencies Act was invoked in Canada since 1970.
He said the protests aren’t peaceful and are harming the economy, while measures are needed to strengthen law enforcement agencies.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland then announced a number of measures to reduce funding to the protests. These include broadening anti-money laundering measures to crowdfunding platforms and digital currencies. Banks will also be able to freeze accounts of entities involved in the protests.
Freeland also said that for companies whose trucks are used in blockades, their corporate accounts will be frozen and their insurance suspended.
The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec stated that they don’t support the prime minister’s use of the act.
On the U.S. side, truckers joined the protests at various locations. They gathered in some border areas in Michigan and New York without causing a blockade.
The main U.S. convoy is going to start on Feb. 23, one of the organizers told The Epoch Times.
He said at least 500 to 1,000 truckers will begin the convoy.
Enrico Trigoso contributed to this report.