Courtesy Global News, February 16, 2021
Coronavirus: Manitoba truckers still seeing discrimination, should be among first vaccinated, says association

The Manitoba Trucking Association’s (MTA) Terry Shaw says they still hear regular reports of truckers being refused medical or retail services because people are scared they may be infected with COVID-19.

“Truck drivers are safe,” said Shaw. “Truck drivers are performing a critical service. And so we would encourage all Manitobans to treat non-symptomatic truck drivers as you would any other non-symptomatic Manitoban.”

In October of 2020, Shaw told Global News that truckers were being turned away from retail stores and even from getting the flu shot. “When we do receive reports, it’s not like they’re coming in massive waves. But the simple fact is it shouldn’t be occurring at all,” he said.

Truckers still have to follow national protocols around COVID-19, but drivers are unable to quarantine for 14 days after travel, said Shaw, or the industry would shut down.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, four million commercial vehicles have crossed the Canada-U.S. border, and the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is reporting only a “handful” of COVID-positive cases among its members.

“Our industry has managed this process excellently, our drivers, our management teams, our customers,” said Stephen Laskowski, the president of the CTA.

“(Professional drivers) face different regulations in each province every day prior to COVID, so this is not a unique challenge, it’s a different challenge.”

Because truck drivers are traveling through numerous jurisdictions, Shaw said he believes they should be among the first to be vaccinated. “If there are differences of opinions in regards to vaccination standards, who should be vaccinated and whether or not you can enter a jurisdiction because you’re vaccinated, then Manitoba truck drivers need to ensure that those needs are met for those jurisdictions, not just Manitoba,” said Shaw. 

“Protecting Manitoba truck drivers not only protects those individuals, but it protects the Manitoba supply chain. And so we’re strongly encouraging our provincial government partners to factor that into their considerations.”

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