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Ontario officials, unions call on business support to keep goods moving

Toronto, ON – The government of Ontario has called on businesses to support truck drivers as they travel on provincial roads delivering essential goods.

“[Truck drivers] are working long hours, day and night delivering food and equipment and other essential supplies for Ontario families,” said a joint statement issued by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

“Our truck drivers deserve our respect, our support, our thanks and our best efforts to help them as they continue to make sure we can put food on our tables and pick up other necessary items.”

The statement was issued in response to the treatment some working within the trucking industry have faced and the Ministers called on business owners to support drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms.

“Ontario is committed to supporting the trucking industry and we would like to thank commercial carriers and truck drivers for everything that they’ve done to keep goods moving during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The goverment said it is providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province and are keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for take-out, grab and go and drive-through services, including washrooms with enhanced cleaning, as well as also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so trucks have a place to stop and rest safely.

These actions build on measures announced last month that allow the 24-hour delivery of goods without the restrictions of municipal noise by-laws, and the extension of the validation of driver’s licences, Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration certificates and other products that expired on or after March 1, 2020.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, in a tweet, said truckers “deserve our praise.”

Meanwhile, the union representing many drivers called for gas stations and highway rest areas to fully re-open to transportation workers and asking federal and provincial governments to pressure them into doing so if necessary.

“Gas stations and highway rest areas limited access to their facilities or closed altogether in the wake of the pandemic, making it harder for truck drivers and delivery workers across North America to find clean bathrooms. Finding a hot shower, a warm meal or simply a place to wash their hands has also become more difficult,” said the national president of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte, in a statement issued by the union.

“This is a matter of human decency. Nobody can be expected to work an entire day without using a bathroom. It’s a disgraceful way to treat the truck drivers and delivery workers who are essential to the functioning of our country.”

“Some of our members are going days without a shower and going close to an hour outside their normal routes just to find a bathroom. Others have resorted to using a tree on a secluded sideroad, which is humiliating and especially difficult for women,” he added.

“Truck drivers and delivery workers are vital to keeping hospitals supplied and food on store shelves. If they can’t do their job properly, we all suffer,” warned Laporte. “Everyone has a breaking point and if this goes on, some drivers get sick or will simply stop showing up to work, harming the supply chain and leaving critical shipments in limbo.”


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