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CTA Snapshot of Driver Rest Area/Service Facility Support During COVID-19

As steadfast truck drivers roll across the country delivering essential supplies to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they’re treated by some shippers and their accessibility to washrooms, food services and rest areas has grabbed the attention of the nation.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the provincial associations have been working diligently with Ottawa to keep as many facilities as possible open and clean, with accessible washrooms and food during the crisis; while also urging respect for the dedicated women and men behind the wheel.

“Given the important role commercial drivers play as they carry out essential functions related to the COVID-19 emergency response, it is crucial that they be provided access to restroom facilities at a minimum,” says Geoff Wood, CTA’s senior VP of policy. “Accessibility remains very fluid and changing daily as more facilities across the country come online. CTA and its provincial association members appreciate the support from all levels of government to provide our hard-working truck drivers as many options as possible where they can refuel, eat and rest safely.”

Accordingly, CTA and the provincial associations have drafted a national report – CTA-RestAreasV2_public – demonstrating where shortages of food and rest areas remain; as well as locations-facilities that have maintained or established services accommodating truck drivers. Click here for a province-by-province snapshot of available amenities and areas of need. (For more complete details, contact the provincial association responsible for a specific jurisdiction).

The report was drafted in large part by surveying CTA member carriers on their observations of availability and reported areas of need. Some common themes:

  • Installation of portable clean washrooms along the provincial/territorial truck inspection station network, along with access to food trucks/food/beverages amenities.
  • More access to food/drinks/bathrooms for drivers across Canada;
  • The repurposing of public properties in-close proximity to highways as rest areas for truck drivers;
  • The use of food trucks and other methods to create food options available 24/7 for truck drivers at these makeshift rest areas during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Assistance/enforcement for current private/public rest areas experiencing poor hygiene practices by facility users;
  • Installation of portable clean washrooms along the provincial/territorial truck inspection station network, along with access to food trucks/food/beverages amenities.

The report also details potential solutions being explored involving private and public sector cooperation. The Province of Ontario, for example, announced the installation of washroom facilities at all 32 of its truck inspection locations and Alberta announced all provincially controlled rest areas would reopen to support the trucking industry.

“This type of action by government should be explored and implemented by all provinces,” says Wood. “It was clear that even prior to COVID-19 crisis that we had a shortage of rest areas; however, the crisis has certainly exacerbated the situation and we need cooperative action wherever possible.”

In addition, Transport Canada and ESDC are working with industry partners to encourage restaurants and other services providers to support commercial drivers’ needs and provide them with access to restrooms. ESDC is also developing communication campaigns with the support of Transport Canada to raise awareness of this critical need across the highway system and supply chain.

The snapshot also highlights the private companies that have stepped up (including some popular franchises that have worked with CTA and Restaurants Canada to find workarounds to drive-thru access policies so truck drivers can receive curbside food service).

Individual members of the carrier community have also taken action. Munden Ventures in BC, for example, launched a Facebook page helping local food providers and food truck operators connect with truck drivers needing to be fed.

However, despite the gracious efforts of corporate citizens and the general public, CTA is continuously receiving reports of very poor treatment of drivers at shipper/receiver facilities like inadequate or non-existent social distance policies; lack of bathroom access; or no access to food and even a place to rest.

The Alliance is hopeful its #ThankaTrucker campaign continues to propel change along the supply chain and is encouraged by the public support for respect drivers have received from top levels of government, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Trudeau.

As this remains a fluid issue, CTA will continue to update this national snapshot as the status of the rest stop and food service network changes. Be sure to visit CTA’s COVID-19 news page for all the latest updates.

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