Automakers cut production as Canadian truckers block deliveries across key border bridge to protest vaccine mandate

Vehicles block the route leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 8, 2022.

Carlos Osorio | Reuters

DETROIT – Canadian truck drivers blocking the nation’s busiest border bridge between the U.S. and Canada in protest of that country’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate are disrupting North American manufacturing, especially among automakers.

General Motors, Ford Motor and Toyota Motor have been forced to cut production at several plants in the U.S. and Canada this week due to a lack of parts caused by the delivery delays.

The White House on Wednesday said it was monitoring the problem “very closely.” Government officials have warned if the “Freedom Convoy” blockade is prolonged, it could worsen supply chain problems, not just for the automotive industry, but for other sectors of the economy such as the medical and agriculture industries.

The blockade is now entering its fourth day on the Ambassador Bridge, which accounts for a quarter of goods traded between the U.S. and Canada.

“The blockade poses a risk to supply chains for the auto industry because the bridge is a key conduit for motor vehicles components and parts,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Wednesday. “We’re also tracking potential disruptions to U.S. agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada.”

Psaki said the White House is in close contact with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Customs and Border Protection authorities, as well as Canadian officials and auto companies. They are attempting to find alternative roots and alleviate the impact on U.S. production and citizens who may cross the bridge for work.

“We’re very focused on this.  The President is focused on this,” she said.

Auto production

Supporter with sign denouncing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during “The Freedom Rally” to protest the mandatory vaccine policy imposed on the Canadian truckers returning from USA to avoid a two week quarantine in Vaughan-Ontario in Canada.

Arindam Shivaani | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, cut shifts short Wednesday at its minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, according to local media reports. The company did not immediately reply for comment.

Canadian protests

A woman attends a protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, as vehicles block the route leading from the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 8, 2022.

Carlos Osorio | Reuters

Truckers are protesting a rule that took effect Jan. 15 requiring those entering Canada to be fully vaccinated. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has showed no sign of easing the country’s restrictions, according to media reports.

François Laporte, president of Teamsters Canada, which represents over 55,000 professional drivers, including 15,000 long haul truck drivers, has condemned the protests, saying they do not represent the 90% of drivers who are vaccinated.

“We firmly believe in the right to protest government policies and voice a wide array of opinions, but what is happening in Ottawa has done more harm to Teamsters members, be they truck drivers who were trying to deliver their loads, or hotel, restaurant and healthcare workers who were intimidated, abused or prevented from accessing their workplaces, by several protesters,” he said in a statement earlier this week. 

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