I want to start of by saying I hope everyone is healthy in these trying and unprecedented times, both physically and mentally. Times like this, that none of us have ever seen before, are hard on everyone, and the uncertainty in our day to day lives makes it difficult. We all need to lean on each other as a society, to do what is best not only for ourselves, but more importantly for those around us who may be more vulnerable than we are. Reach out, make a call to check in on someone, see if they are ok, and provide what help you can, within the self isolation guidelines that we all must follow.
I also want to take a minute to thank all the frontline essential workers who are doing what they can to keep us all healthy and to provide the services and supplies we need. All the healthcare workers, pharmacists, the workers at all the grocery and retail stores that are staying open and ensuring shelves are stocked, clean and ready for our needs. These people, and many many more, are sacrificing their time selflessly for our benefit.
One I have yet to mention, is the Professional Truck Driver. Never has the value and need of drivers too the greater good of our Country been more evident than it is now. In almost every press conference, from Federal Leaders, to Provincial, Municipal and South of the Border, truck drivers are being thanked for the service they provide. We in the industry have always known how critical and essential our truck drivers were, and know it seems the rest of the world is fully aware!! In these critical times, we are asking our professional drivers to continue to work and provide us with the essential services, but are we returning the favour and ensuring our drivers are provided the essential services to protect their own well being? In many cases, our professional drivers are being refused access to washroom facilities while they are out on the road. The PMTC has done our best, in collaboration with other Industry associations and government, to ensure we keep, or in some cases, reopen rest areas to ensure drivers have access. We have had some success imploring Truck Stops to stay open and provide washroom and showers to drivers. The biggest concern now from our members drivers is having shippers/receivers provide them with access to a washroom while delivering or picking up loads. In many cases they are not even providing a porta potty. We are asking our drivers to stay out and move our essential products around to keep us safe, however we are not even providing them with the basic necessities they require to keep themselves safe and healthy.
Our members are reporting that many of their drivers, when returning from their runs, are throwing their hands up, going home and refusing to come back to work until they can be guaranteed these rights. If this continues, the problem will only get worse for all of us. We simply must do better. Shippers, receivers and manufacturers play a vital role in our needs today as well, as we need you to produce the food, medicines etc. that we all need, and then the driver is needed to get it there. If we can work together to get the product to the people it needs to get to, why can’t we work together to ensure we look after each others basic human rights and needs? I know fear plays a big role in the access not being provided, as the fear of the spread of the virus is wide spread, and we see the stories on the news everyday, but there are ways we can ensure drivers are provided access, and ensure we protect the health and safety of all of us at the same time. By denying access, the driver has no chance. One of our members reported 10 drivers in 2 days that returned from their runs and went home, refusing to go back out until proper access was guaranteed….we need to all work together to make this stop.
I want to end on a positive note however, on the other side, we have heard stories of drivers arriving at pick up and delivery locations and being provided with free food, coffee, and being welcomed right into their facilities, so there are many people out there who are simply amazing and on the complete other end of the spectrum…in fact I believe the majority of people and businesses understand the drivers needs and do what they can, for those of you who don’t…you hurting us all, and most importantly, hurting the one who is helping you!