COVID-19 Protests In Canada Disrupt U.S. Auto Production

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COVID-19 Protests In Canada Disrupt U.S. Auto Production
Protests against vaccine mandates have created a blockade at the U.S.-Canadian border, disrupting the flow of auto parts to production plants.

The truck blockade by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions is tightening the screws on the auto industry, forcing Ford, General Motors and other car companies to shut down plants or otherwise reduce production on both sides of the U.S. border.

The bumper-to-bumper demonstration by the self-proclaimed "Freedom Truck Convoy" entered its fourth day Thursday at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing, carrying 25% of all trade between the two countries, and the effects of the blockade there were felt rapidly.

Ford said its Windsor, Ontario, engine plant reopened Thursday after being shut down on Wednesday because of a lack of parts. But the factory and the company’s assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, near Toronto, were operating at reduced capacity, the automaker said.

On the U.S. side, GM canceled the second shift on Wednesday and the first shift on Thursday at its SUV factory outside Lansing, Michigan.

Toyota said it will not be able to manufacture anything at three Canadian plants for the rest of the week because of parts shortages. In a statement, the automaker blamed supply chain disruptions, weather and pandemic-related problems, but the shutdowns came just days after the blockade began Monday.

Honda said that its assembly plant in Alliston, Ontario, north of Toronto, had to suspend production on one assembly line on Wednesday, but that it was back in operation Thursday.

Hundreds of demonstrators in trucks have also paralyzed the streets of downtown Ottawa for almost two weeks, and dozens more have been blocking the border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, opposite Montana, decrying vaccine mandates for truckers and other COVID-19 restrictions and railing against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While protesters have been calling for Trudeau’s removal, most of the restrictive measures around the country have been put in place by provincial governments. Those include requirements that people show proof-of-vaccination passports to enter restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and sporting events.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.