The MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington warns Ontario could face even greater problems in its supply chain if the federal government follows through with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federally-regulated truckers.
Truckers who cross the border have until Saturday to get their vaccinations.
However, Rick Nicholls fears some will park their rigs before getting the shot. He thinks Premier Doug Ford needs to put his foot down.
“He needs to talk to [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau and [Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia] Freeland and say, ‘listen, you need to back off on this. You’re going to create a greater crisis,” said Nicholls.
It is no secret Nicholls is against mandatory vaccination. Premier Ford removed him from his cabinet after Nicholls refused to get his shots. Soon after, he left the Progressive Conservative Party, and most recently, joined the Ontario Party, where he sits as the fledgling party’s lone sitting MPP.
However, Nicholls said his concern is the greenhouse industry in his riding.
“What does that mean, in terms of produce coming up from the south, or in the Windsor area, we’ve got greenhouses, and a lot of that produce is not going to be delivered to markets south of the border,” he asked.
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters estimate up to 20 per cent of truck drivers remain unvaccinated. Nicholls said if it hasn’t been a problem for almost two years, why create an issue now.
“These truckers are in their trucks by themselves,” he said. “They go to a loading point, load up, drive back across the border, go to their destination, unload, and back and forth.”
Nicholls believes a potential solution could lie in Canada’s use of the National Interest Exemption, which has been used by professional athletes to get around COVID-19 requirements.