Premier Scott Moe and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum have signed a memorandum of understanding to vaccinate essential workers who are transporting goods across the Canada-U.S. border. Approximately 2,000 Saskatchewan residents will be eligible for the program.
"Trade with the United States is essential for the Saskatchewan economy," Moe said. "These essential workers are crossing the border to ensure our residents and those in the United States have access to the goods and services they need to get through this pandemic.
“This extraordinary level of co-operation helps protect more Canadians at a time when vaccine availability in America exceeds that of Canada, and we thank Governor Burgum for working with our province to make this happen."
"Protecting the health and safety of essential workers crossing our shared border with Saskatchewan, including truck drivers and energy workers, is vitally important for public health, our economy and the eventual safe reopening of the border," Burgum said.
"We are grateful to Premier Moe for his partnership on this initiative, which will ensure the safe delivery of goods and services across the border and strengthen the longstanding friendly relationship between North Dakota and our northern neighbours."
The North Dakota Department of Transportation's rest area near Drayton, N.D., is currently serving as a vaccination site for truck drivers originating in Manitoba. Saskatchewan truck drivers will be eligible for vaccination at the Drayton site starting April 28. Vaccinations are available from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
An additional vaccination site has been approved near the Saskatchewan border crossing at North Portal to vaccinate Saskatchewan truck drivers as well as essential energy workers who regularly cross the border. An appropriate location for this site is currently being determined and will be released in the coming days.
"The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) knows how critical vaccines are to fighting COVID-19 and is pleased to see the partnership between North Dakota and Saskatchewan," STA executive director Susan Ewart said. "Providing necessary vaccines to professional drivers and oilfield workers crossing the border will ensure the safety and protection of these workers as they continue to drive the economy."
The North Dakota Department of Health will provide the staff and infrastructure to administer vaccinations. There will be no cost for the vaccination program to either the State of North Dakota or the Province of Saskatchewan, as the United States government provides vaccine and reimburses the cost of administering vaccine.
In 2020, trade between Saskatchewan and North Dakota was valued at $2 billion.