The Sprout: Trucker vaccine mandate to go ahead despite confusion

Good day and welcome to the Sprout, where today is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day — one of the best sandwiches of all time! The weekend brings with it National Bagel Day and National Strawberry Ice Cream Day on Saturday, while Sunday marks International Hot & Spicy Food Day, National Fig Newton Day and National Quinoa Day.

Here’s today’s agriculture news.

The Lead 

We start with an update about Canada’s vaccination mandate for truckers, which officials say is still set to take effect on Jan. 15, despite an earlier statement from the Canada Border Services Agency saying Canadian truckers who are unvaccinated or have received only one dose would be exempted from quarantine requirements.

“On Nov. 19, 2021, we announced that as of Jan. 15, 2022, certain categories of travellers who are currently exempt from entry requirements, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“These groups include several essential service providers, including truck drivers. Let us be clear: This has not changed. The information shared yesterday was provided in error. Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information.”

You can find the full statement from the ministers here.

As CTV News reports, the news about the vaccine mandate still taking effect has been met with disappointment from the trucking industry, where industry experts are warning every aspect of Canada’s supply chain will be affected by the vaccine requirement and delays in the movement of goods are likely.

“There isn’t one aspect of the supply chain that won’t be impacted by this measure,” Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) President Stephen Laskowski told CTV Friday morning.

In Other-Related Headlines:

Around Town 

Juno award-winner Bruce Cockburn is speaking out against a plan to build a $2.8-billion hospital campus on the Experimental Farm in Ottawa. iPolitics’ Jeff Labine has that story.

The Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Prince Edward Island Potatoes met on Thursday to discuss the ongoing trade dispute between Canada and the United States, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau tweeted.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s Hay West 2021 campaign continues to operate and help drought-stricken producers. You can find more information about the program here.

In Canada 

COVID-19 cases among employees at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River, Alta., has union officials calling on the company to increase protections for workers and release case data. The Moutainview Today has that story.

Meanwhile, an Alberta judge has reserved a decision on how a class-action lawsuit against the Cargill meat-packing plant should proceed after a hearing was held in Calgary on Thursday. CBC News has more.

The Manitoba government says it will auction off agricultural Crown land leases and permits in an online auction set to be held between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. CBC News has the details.

Alberta Health Services says it is looking for third-party companies to handle the food services for eight hospitals and care centres in Edmonton and Calgary. CTV News has that story.


In other Cargill-related news: the U.S. company says rising COVID-19 infections among workers at North American meat-packing plants will not lead to shortages of meat, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Guardian looks at whether a global farmers’ assembly can help cut agricultural pollution.


The Kicker

We end today with the smashing tale about a culinary scientist who loves spuds so much, he ended up getting a PhD in mashed potatoes. CBC News has more.

That’s it for us this week. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.

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