Covid-19 reminds us how essential drivers are

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It’s a word that people have come to use when describing the work of truck drivers — the men and women who remain on the job during these days of Covid-19. They’re the ones who keep food on store shelves, fuel in our cars, masks and ventilators in our hospitals.

These are vital supplies. Essential supplies.

While most Canadians are told to shelter in place, to stay at home, to close the doors and “flatten the curve,” society asks truck drivers to answer the call. To climb back behind the wheel. To hook up, head out, deliver and repeat. Day and night.

The work has to be done. It’s essential work.

Did you ever hear stories about the merchant navy, and how it maintained supply lines as a war once raged in Europe? It’s that important. This time it’s not a shooting war, of course. The enemy is unseen, this Covid-19. But make no mistake about it. The fight is real.

It’s an essential fight.

As Canada and the U.S. close our shared border in the fight against this virus, the trucks continue to roll. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured the nation that – in his words — “truckers will not be affected.” It’s because Canada relies on these services.

These essential services.

Oh, the job won’t be easy. Remember to wash your hands, but please don’t use our washrooms. Line up over there, but keep a safe distance. Try to stay close to your family in these troubling times, but do it from afar. Dinner time? You’ll have to walk up to the drive thru. The truck stop dining room is closed.

But the job of a truck driver has never been easy. The 300,000 Canadians who do this work, who drive every manner of truck in all sorts of applications, know this very well. They keep on the move so Canada can keep on the move. Under all conditions. In all weather. Just in time. All the time.

The work is simply too essential to leave undone.

We will all emerge from the fight against Covid-19, of that I’m sure. But when this particular fight is over, we should try a little harder to recognize the work of those who always do the jobs that need to be done.

When the heavy traffic returns and delays occur. When equipment breaks down and needs repair. When customers call and change the rules of the game. Whenever someone looks at the numbers on a chart and forgets about the faces behind the figures.

We’ll need to remind everyone to thank a trucker, and why.

It’s essential.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • I keep hearing how essential we are I have always known this because I haul food only food. The places to get a meal are few and far between but their is a plus. I have noticed little traffic so the city’s and highways can handle the volume at night I can always find a parking spot and every morning I wake up feeling good and healthy.. on the negative side the load brokers think rates should be down as there are hardly entirely trucks on the road so this means lots availability. I keep going because my family,your family and everybody else need food to live. They say we are hero s we are essential. Than show us., by respect and financial gratitude.

  • Thanks! john ,never thought we would be compared to the merchant navy??
    I worked years ago with men that were on those boats ww2+ into the ’50s
    Thanks Lloyd

  • Many people (workers) named essential from store clerks, P S W s to truck drivers , taxi drivers farm workers, and food processing are being poorly protected at this time. More places to wash, showers and places to eat need to be provided. Any homeless truck drivers because of insurance companies should be allowed a safe place to sleep and showers and the cost back charged to the insurance company or W I S B who has delayed the claims. I have been in and out of the shelter system for 5 years because of a insurance company and may loose my right foot. I see many people including former Veterans, truck drivers sleeping on the streets in Ontario Canada at this point in time. Truck drivers and those people who repair trucks need to have better protection if they get sick with C 19