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Liberals, industry groups look to solve supply-chain issues, and prevent future woes

Group will look at firming up areas where shortcomings have been exposed by the pandemic
Trucks line up on the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont. as they enter the United States on Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The federal transport minister says the government plans to create a suite of policy responses to help ease pandemic-strained supply chains and prevent future flare-ups.

The problems in supply chains that have driven up the cost of business, and the prices of consumer goods, prompted a handful of cabinet ministers, industry and labour groups to meet today.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the group agreed to a series of followup meetings to will look at firming up regional routes and building redundancies into delivery systems where shortcomings have been exposed by the pandemic.

He says the government also plans to spend money on projects that could immediately ease domestic supply-chain congestions, such as moving goods from backlogged ports.

Alghabra says there are signs that problems are beginning to ease, and suggests every step the government takes, and every policy it makes, will look to avoid straining trade problems anew.

He also says the vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border hasn’t had a measurable impact on the volume of trucks crossing the border with goods.

The number of commercial truck drivers entering Canada dropped by 2.8 per cent to 105,592 between the weeks of Jan. 10-16 and Jan. 21-27, according to statistics from the public safety minister’s office and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The number of truckers crossing the border fell by 1.1 per cent during the same period in 2021 and by seven per cent in 2019.

The trucker vaccine mandate kicked in on Jan. 15 for those entering Canada. A reciprocal American policy took effect one week later.

Instead, what the industry noted repeatedly during the four-hour meeting was that there is a shortage of truck drivers overall that is making it difficult to move goods around the country.

—The Canadian Press

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