How the COVID Pandemic Impacts Canadian Truckers

In these times when fear of COVID-19 is high and jobs are being sorted into categories of essential or non-essential, it only makes sense that truckers would eventually find their jobs flung into the mix as well. Transporting serviceable goods from one side of the continent to the other, across borders, states, and provinces, truckers have found the complication of their livelihoods under more scrutiny and impact than ever.

Amazon delivery truck

Around the country, measures are being discussed and plans put into place to protect truckers and their families. Their equipment and service tools are also being protected from the virus ravaging its way across the country in record numbers.

Determined “Essential”

This one should come as no surprise since, without truckers, there would be no grocery stock. The Canadian Trucking Alliance or the CTA has begun to call on the governments to begin treating truckers like the essential workers they are. They are insisting that truckers be given special measures in order to keep performing their jobs across borders, despite the risk of infection.

It’s through this insistence and needs for their service that a distinction is being made between casual travelers and essential travelers. Truckers are also being taken into account for the first time requiring financial assistance and for how much work they actually do to make sure that grocery shelves and hospitals remain well-stocked during a time when such a simple task is made increasingly difficult.

The Risk of Self-Quarantine

Due to the need for quarantine to regulate the spread of infection, proper precautions need to be taken into account. So where do Canadian truck drivers fall into this precocious concoction?

The risk of self-quarantine for truck drivers is higher than it would be for most other essential personnel due to the nature of this particular job. Without their regular transport of necessary goods across the country, the economy, already in shambles, would effectively grind to a halt, threatening the safety of the citizens.

With this in mind, new measures have been sought. Truckers can’t just send themselves into quarantine without possibly jeopardizing their jobs and the country’s need for new goods. As a result, it forces an abrupt change in a system that wasn’t properly prepared for it.

The Facts Involved

The cold truth is that many truckers traveling across and leaving the country have either not been tested, or else haven’t tested positive for COVID-19. Truckers and the service they provide not only transport food and supplies, but also medical equipment which is in such dire necessity right now. Traveling back and forth across the country and between borders is only part of the massive undertaking they endure to make sure the shelves are well-stocked for emergencies.

Chris Nash, the president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, agrees with this sentiment, saying such supplies are critical during these stressful times. Social distancing has also made it difficult for certain portions of jobs to be completed. Drivers often have to interact directly with warehouse employees to check the status of a shipment and get the trailer unloaded before the truck can get moving again. A driver may spend up to four or five hours at a dock waiting for the all-clear, and this raises the risk of infection.

What is Needed to Protect Canadian Truckers

Truck with sleeper cabin

The CTA is calling for truckers to be exempt from the fourteen-day quarantines. These quarantines have been placed on most other citizens, sans the essential workforce, such as police, healthcare workers and grocery store clerks. They also called for truckers to be given special leeway to enter and exit the country as required by their shipping routes and supplies they carry.

Hours-of-Service Relief

This was made possible by the U.S Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that all essential truckers who are busy moving emergency food and medical supplies to where they need to go are given as much financial and moral support as possible in lieu of the protective quarantine.

This is especially vital since the virus is expected to hit freight volumes far beyond the normal shipment capacity in the coming weeks. This will require increasingly longer hours spent on the road, as well as more shipping routes added on with an addition of even more products in need of transport.

Canceled Shows

Several different trucking trade shows have been canceled and postponed in the current wake of COVID-19, such as Newcom Media’s Truck World trade show and conference. It’s been moved to June 4th through the 6th with the tentative confidence that the virus will have begun to run its course by that time.

Several other shows, such as the Mid-America Trucking Show and the TruckTech Fleet Summit have also been shifted into June 5th instead of the planned dates in April and March. All across the board, safety trumps informative conferences with the idea to protect as many truckers from infection as possible.

Upcoming Strategies

Several companies have banded together to not only protect their hard-working employees but also their equipment lines together at once. This calls for pulling of new models from the floors of canceled and postponed shows for the time being. Launch dates of new models through such brands as Volvo and Mack in the interest of prioritizing the health and safety of all the workers.

Further and more intricate cleaning measures have been taken and put into effect at company facilities. And further bans to restricted areas by traveling personnel have also been put in place. Video conferences have also been set up in place of live attendance meetings.

Truck Stop Shutdowns

Normally a vital measure for truckers on the road, many of the truck stops found across the stretches of barren highway have also been shut down. This forces truckers to get creative with their normal morning routines. Drive-thrus remain open for them, however, making the process of traveling from Point A to Point B just a little bit easier.

Conclusion

If anything good can be gleaned from all of this, it’s that truckers, formerly nobodies in the world of employment and big business, are now being recognized. They are even celebrated as the integral source of all stock movement.

How are you affected by the pandemic? Are you an essential truck driver? Share with us what you’re seeing out there.