Canada’s truckers already have a challenging job and are an important front line in the current public health battle. Now, according to information from Teamsters Canada, freight carriers are being denied access to washrooms and showers at rest stops.
This concern was taken up by Ontario MPP, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, who tweeted Sunday photos of signs reading, ‘No Driver Washrooms at this Location’ and ‘No drivers beyond this point’ and ‘No washroom access.’
“We have thousands of truck drivers, delivering medical supplies or groceries, things that people in the province need. And, we have some businesses out there that are hanging signs up saying essentially drop off your load, but you can’t use the restroom,” said McNaughton.
Ken Johnston, Purolator's head of human resources, told media that for truckers much has changed over the last few weeks. Where once gas stations were among the "last reliable places" for a rest stop, operations are now closing the door on driver breaks.
"Our couriers deliver critical supplies to hospitals, long-term care facilities and of course millions of Canadians who are now self-isolating or social distancing in their homes who need supplies. So, in many ways we're as much of a front-line worker in this effort as anyone," he said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory joined the discussion. "Some businesses who previously accommodated employees for mid-route bathroom breaks are either closed or they are open but no longer allowing those operators in,” he said at a Monday news conference. "Those operators - those bus drivers and streetcar operators and others - are serving us at a time when we need them to serve us, and we need to help them as they carry out their duties for us.”
For weeks, truckers across Canada and the U.S. have complained about a lack of access to rest areas. Many sites, such as c-store and gas stations, have limited access to truck drivers because of fears of contracting the virus. In response, the Ontario government has ordered all truck stops to remain open and deliver basic services to drivers who need bathroom breaks.