(WXYZ) — The American Trucking Association estimated a shortage of more than 60,000 drivers before the pandemic and it’s only gotten worse. Now, tougher rules at the border are raising even more concerns about supply chain issues.
Since 1975, truck driver Clay Bartsch has made hundreds of trips back and forth from Canada for work, and says it’s important to remember when it comes to the goods we rely on daily.
"Trucks haul everything," said Bartsch.
He said while truck driving schools are recruiting to address a driver shortage, a new mandate already in effect by Canada requiring drivers who enter the country to be vaccinated could slow things down further.
"If Canada is going to to do that, it should be the same way coming back into the states. Shut the supply chain down? Look at the store shelves now," said Bartsch.
According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, 120,000 Canadians and 40,000 licensed drivers in the U.S. ride across the border, hauling roughly 70% of roughly 650 billion in trade.
An advocate for health and safety, State Rep. Tenisha Yancey from Detroit gave us her take on what she thinks the overall impact will be.
"About 56% of truck drivers in Michigan are vaccinated ... and it may have a positive impact, but also I believe it could have a chilling effect on our economy," said Rep. Yancey.
Under the mandate that began Saturday, a driver must either show proof of vaccination or valid medical exemption or be turned away. We’ve learned the U.S. could also begin a similar mandate on January 22.
"In the beginning, I had my concerns about the vaccination as well, but there’s a bigger concern about COVID. While you can choose whether or not you want to be vaccinated, you also probably need to make that choice as to whether or not you’re going to stay employed or you're going to be able to perform your job," said Rep. Yancey.
For Bartsch, being vaccinated has made things easier, but he’s also sharing concerns over how this mandate could overwhelm traffic flow given the massive amount of trucks heading back and forth along the bridge each day.
"All the rest areas they shut down, there ain’t no place to go,” said Bartsch.
Rep. Yancey says while she doesn’t believe in forcing the vaccine on people, she does believe this could lead to more vaccinations and a safer environment crossing the border.