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Border Bond: Manitoba, North Dakota govs. collaborate on truck driver vaccine initiative

Bismarck, North Dakota — In an act of cross-border-collaboration, the governments of Manitoba and the U.S. state of North Dakota announced on Tuesday the Essential Worker Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative, to help protect those essential supply chain workers who travel across the border every day.

“As Manitoba faces the third wave of the pandemic and the significant challenges associated with variants of concern, our number one limiting factor in protecting Manitobans is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. 

“Manitoba is proud to partner with North Dakota on this innovative strategy to provide life-saving vaccines to Manitoba’s essential workers delivering the goods and services Manitobans, Canadians and Americans rely on. Manitoba and North Dakota have enjoyed a strong relationship of mutual respect and friendship, and I want to thank Governor Burgum and his team for their willingness to support Manitoba through this joint vaccination effort.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum echoed Pallister’s support of the initiative.

“North Dakota and Manitoba have a long and rich history of friendship and co-operation, and this vaccination initiative is an opportunity to strengthen that bond by offering assistance that will protect public health and the flow of goods and services on both sides of the border,” said Burgum. 

“With adequate vaccine supplies and all North Dakotans having access to vaccines while Canada is dealing with a vaccine shortage, we want to do our part to ensure essential workers from Canada who are frequently travelling through our state are vaccinated. The timely and effective administration of vaccines is essential for public health and the eventual safe reopening of our shared border.”

Manitoba will work alongside their American neighbour for the next six to eight weeks to help schedule vaccine appointments for Manitoban truck drivers who cross the border regularly. The provincial government expects about 2,000 to 4,000 truck drivers to take part in the initiative.

This move by both governments has also been met with enthusiasm from within the Manitoba trucking community as president of Portage Transport Inc., Bernie Driedger also responded to the announcement.

“On behalf of my eligible driving staff and all Manitoba Trucking Association members, I welcome today’s announcement,” Bernie Driedger 

“When it comes to the COVID vaccine the most important question is not where can one get it, but when can one get it? To see Manitoba and North Dakota coming together to creatively collaborate on a vaccination strategy that will expedite the vaccination of Manitoba truck drivers working to or through North Dakota is excellent news. This move protects these important essential workers and their families, while also freeing up vaccination spots back in Manitoba. A genuine win/win. We congratulate our provincial government partners on the initiative they took to make this happen.”

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