As the second wave of COVID-19 shuts down businesses and operations across Canada, the issue of lack of washroom facilities for truck drivers has resurfaced.
Truckers delivering essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic are facing a “dehumanizing” struggle to find open washrooms, one that could lead to health concerns down the road,” says Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada.
Uvanile-Hesch was recently in the media to urge businesses shipping and accepting truck deliveries as well as chain restaurants to open their facilities.
In an interview with CBC News, Uvanile-Hesch said many chain restaurants and local businesses that remain open have restricted access to their facilities, which means truckers working 12-hour shifts may end up not using a restroom all day. She also called on carriers in the trucking industry to stand up for their drivers.
Last spring, the CTA and OTA led efforts to urge businesses to accommodate truck drivers and worked with Restaurants Canada and other chains to open facilities and treat drivers with respect
Uvanile-Hesch explained how some drivers, who spend half their day unloading at a facility without being allowed to use the facilities, were given a roll of toilet paper and told to go behind the building.
“This is very dehumanizing. It is so wrong on so many levels,” Uvanile-Hesch said. “Drivers are human beings, we’re not dogs. We don’t go outside. We deserve to be able to go into a washroom like everybody else.”
In a statement, Natasha Tremblay, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, called it “unacceptable” that drivers have been denied access to public restrooms and urged businesses to “step up and support” them.
“Our government is committed to supporting the trucking industry. Truck drivers and commercial carriers have worked hard to keep goods moving for the people of Ontario and it is unacceptable that some of them have been denied washroom access,” Tremblay said.
The province also plans to keep 18 seasonal rest area locations open, along with 31 truck inspection stations and one tourist information centre. The sites are in addition to the province’s 23 On Route service centres.
Full CBC story here.