The trucker protests in Canada had a far-reaching impact, slowing trade and worsening supply chain issues. Plus, with demand for drivers rising, the initial event and subsequent protests made securing new drivers harder, causing many companies to need transport hiring services.
In January 2022, truckers protesting vaccine mandates gathered on the Canadian side of the border. The move was in response to a double-dose COVID-19 vaccine requirement, a decision that was designed to overcome 14-day quarantines for truck drivers crossing between Canada and the United States.
Later dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” the group stalled travel, disrupting the streets of Ottawa and slowing trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. With supply chain issues and driver shortages already wreaking havoc in many nations, the Freedom Convoy made a challenging situation more complicated.
Blockades also sprung up at other border crossing locations, including Ambassador Bridge near Detroit and border crossings in Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota.
While the initial Ottawa protest was cleared toward the end of February, subsequent protest groups formed in other areas. A convoy moved across the United States in early March, leaving Southern California and advancing toward Washington DC. One group of protestors in Canada planned to head toward Vancouver.
The impact of the events is varied. However, it’s important to understand how the trucker protests influenced the economy and landscape and how future efforts may still have an effect.
How the Trucker Protests Impacted the Supply Chain
The Freedom Convoy and other border crossing protests had a significant impact on trade. One industry that was particularly hard hit was the automotive sector. Many American vehicle manufacturing locations rely on parts produced in Canada. When the protests prevented essential components from making it to manufacturing facilities, some locations had to shut down or slow vehicle production, putting additional strain on the already strapped automotive sales sector.
Certain food products also come into the United States from Canada. With grocery shortages being relatively commonplace and inflation causing pricing issues, that exacerbated an already challenging situation.
The Goals and Impact of Subsequent Protests
In many cases, trucker protests outside of the initial Freedom Convoy in Canada and other border-crossing blockades have a different goal. Instead of slowing international trade and travel, they typically aim to clog up streets in major cities for a period.
Typically, the convoys and traffic jams are designed to draw attention to the group’s disapproval of vaccine mandates that impact truckers. In that regard, they can be similar to marches. However, most of the convoys’ activities aren’t not approved protests. Instead, they’re intentional disruptors.
By and large, subsequent protests not impacting border crossings function as an inconvenience, at most. Since they occur in or around cities, they stymy local movement for a period, though typically don’t remain in place long enough to create the same level of harm as the border crossing actions.
Dealing with Driver Shortages
Vaccine mandates have made driver shortages harder to navigate. Truckers that refuse to get the vaccine may not be eligible for specific routes. Since that’s the case, companies that need a driver that meets that requirement may have fewer candidates that qualify for the role.
Some drivers opposed to vaccine mandates have also left the industry, shrinking the qualified workforce during a time when it’s already tight. Couple that with existing shortages that have been putting strain on the industry for years, and finding truckers for even local routes can be difficult.
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