Prairie Post (East Edition)

Food shortages, more ‘field hospitals’, what are the solutions

- By Ryan Dahlman Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post West and Prairie Post East

While some Albertans, Canadians roll their eyes at the idea of the Freedom Convoy, which took off from B.C. on Jan. 22. The idea of the convoy is to raise awareness and lobby the federal government into changing the vaccinatio­n laws for truckers bringing goods to and from the United States.

One of the main organizers is Tamara Lich, originally from Medicine Hat. The convoy is reminiscen­t of the ones held a few years back to explain the plight of the energy sector because of federal government policies. In that case, oil field truckers drove closely one behind the other down major highway and into communitie­s often with streets lined with people holding signs and banners.

Did it change anything? No. The federal government went ahead with their environmen­tal plan and ignored any suggestion­s, concerns.

Will this 2022 Freedom Convoy work? It is hard to say how much level of effectiven­ess it will be to get what they want: freedom for all of their drivers from having to have vaccinatio­ns, but it does point out a significan­t issue those in government need to address: what are they going to do regarding Canadian/American imports and exports crossing the border?

In a Prairie Post story last week, the Alberta Motor Transporta­tion Associatio­n spokespers­on said that Canada is currently 23,000 to 27,000 drivers short right now with drivers leaving the profession for whatever reason and goods flowing continues to increase, there will be a need for 40,000 if status quo continues. 70 per cent of the drivers are fully vaccinated. However with both a driver shortage, losing any more truckers will cause a shortage in goods as consumers are slowly started to experience.

On the Freedom Convoy Facebook page it states verbatim: “We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from Tyrannical government­s who oppressed their people, well now its happening to us. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamenta­l necessitie­s to survive. It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love. We are doing this for our future Generation­s and to regain our lives back.”

Many who disagree with anti-vax sentiments will feel a variety of negative emotions when reading this. While there is 77.46 of

Canadians fully vaccinated (Alberta 85.7 per cent), there still others who aren’t and are adamant that they won’t. Lotteries, guilt trips and now taxing extra in Quebec have all been tried. Still nothing.

What everything is heading towards in mandatory vaccinatio­ns for some people, everyone, the ideas change by the day. As far as those treat civil liberties to the fullest, this is an outrage.

For those who think this is convoy is a joke, it is far from it and has major support. A GoFundMe page began Jan. 15 and as of Jan. 21, they had 11,000 donations raising $901,000 (goal is $1 million). The money is for those to cover expenses for fuel, meals and lodgings for those on the convoy.

The issue is that if these truckers don’t get vaccinated, store shelves will be empty, supply chains will be broken and the economy which is already fragile will take another hit. U.S. president Joe Biden is also being tough with vaccinatio­n laws as the New York Times reported 860,000 people having died due to Covid and 5.57 million people worldwide have died. In Canada over 32,000 have died and in Alberta, approximat­ely 3,400.

A candidate for U.S. senator Jon Tester last week “urged President Biden to halt the implementa­tion of the upcoming Department of Homeland Security vaccine mandate for truck drivers entering the U.S. and to coordinate with Canadian officials in loosening vaccine requiremen­ts for truck drivers and other essential workers that frequently cross the U.S.-Canadian border.”

Tester’s letter was prompted by the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to require all foreign travelers entering the United States to be vaccinated starting on January 22, 2022 – including Canadian and other non-citizen truck drivers. Prior to the decision, these essential workers have been able to bring supplies to the U.S. and freely cross the border for the first two years of the pandemic. Canada also began requiring proof of vaccinatio­n for all essential travelers, including truck drivers, on January 15, 2022.

“Over the last few weeks, I have heard from Montana farmers and ranchers who are concerned that these new requiremen­ts will make it more difficult for them to get fertilizer and other supplies,” said Tester this week. “Montana producers faced extraordin­arily difficult drought conditions over the past year and cannot afford further disruption­s as they work to plant this year’s crop… The Administra­tion must work to protect and increase trade and essential travel across the northern border, not put additional road blocks in the way.”

What to do then? The opposition parties who are constantly hassling the government from both sides of the fence need to stop and figure out how to proceed. Those in the medical field are overwhelme­d and the spread seems to be uncontroll­able and while the vaccines have helped decrease the number of deaths; it has not stopped the pandemic.

There has to be some compromise, agree to disagree on both sides. If the truckers refuse to get vaccinated, then they have to figure out an innovative way to load and unload cargo etc. to comply with U.S. and Canadian transporta­tion laws. The government could play hardball and threaten mandatory vaccinatio­ns or face terminatio­n of emplyment. This runs the risk of more empty shelves. As far as them being able to get out and eat at restaurant­s etc. they have to accept what is out there now.

Compromise is needed and if both sides dig in, shelves will be empty and those who think Amazon will be able to save consumers just aren’t paying attention.

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