A line of trucks seen in Windsor, Ontario, on Wednesday following the closure of the Ambassador Bridge.
At least six carmaking plants in Ontario have halted or slowed production.
Protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge have disrupted the automakers’ supply chain.
The White House has warned that the protests could also affect agricultural exports to Canada.
At least six auto-manufacturing plants in Ontario, Canada, have had production halted or slowed down amid ongoing protests that have shut down a vital US-Canada border crossing.
Reuters reported on Thursday that plants owned by Toyota, Ford, and Stellantis — which makes Chrysler vehicles — suffered disruptions after protesters shut down the Ambassador Bridge, which links Ontario’s Windsor city to Detroit, on Monday night.
The bridge is a critical supply route into Canada for automakers and agricultural businesses in Detroit.
Toyota told Reuters that it would likely not produce vehicles at its three Ontario plants this week. Production was also halted at a Ford engine plant, while Stellantis’ assembly plant cut shifts on Tuesday due to lack of parts but resumed operations on Wednesday, the news wire added.
In late January, Canadian truckers began protesting against the country’s vaccine mandates, jamming up the streets of Ottawa with their vehicles. Participants in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” are particularly angry over the cross-border vaccine regulations that require them to either be fully vaccinated to cross freely into the US and back, or face a quarantine period upon their return.
On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki described the protests as posing a “risk to supply chains for the auto industry,” claiming that Ambassador Bridge accounts for 25% of trade between the US and Canada. She added that officials are also monitoring whether agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada are being affected by the protests.
“Well, we support peaceful protest, but we have concerns when those protests turn violent,” she said during a press briefing. “And certainly, I think it’s important for everyone in Canada and the United States to understand what the impact of this blockage is — the potential impact on workers, on the supply chain. And that is where we are most focused.”
Psaki said US Customs and Border Protection officials have been working with their Canadian counterparts to divert traffic from Ambassador Bridge to Blue Water Bridge — another crossing about 67 miles away. She also noted that workers from the US who need to cross into Canada, or vice versa, have been redirected to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem warned of the potential economic fallout from the Ambassador Bridge’s shutdown.
“We’ve already got a strained global supply chain. We don’t need this,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
News, Canada, COVID-19, Toyota
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