TORONTO, Ont. – Two senior Ontario ministers issued a joint statement Thursday, supporting truck drivers during the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In these extraordinary times, we have extraordinary heroes. Our truck drivers are these heroes,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, and Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation.
“They are working long hours, day and night delivering food and equipment and other essential supplies for Ontario families,” the ministers said.
It was the latest statement issued by the government of Premier Doug Ford amid complaints from truckers that they are being denied access to restrooms. Many stores have been limiting access because of fears of contracting the virus.
On Monday, Labor Minister Monte McNaughton had sharply criticized businesses over the issue.
“We have heard from those working within the trucking industry of the treatment that truck drivers have faced while traveling on our roads,” Elliott and Mulroney said.
In response, they said, they are calling on all business owners to support truck drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms.
“This will better keep our truck drivers safe and healthy and on the road.”
The ministers also said that they expect businesses who rely on truck drivers to provide necessary facilities for them.
“As a government we are working closely with truck drivers and associations to respond to the issues they face on the road.”
It added that the province is providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province, and are keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for takeout, grab-and-go and drive-through services, including washrooms with enhanced cleaning.
“We are also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so trucks have a place to stop and rest safely.”
“They deserve our praise,” he tweeted.
In a statement Thursday, it also urged federal and provincial governments to pressure them into doing so if necessary.
“This is a matter of human decency. Nobody can be expected to work an entire day without using a bathroom,” said union president Francois Laporte.
“It’s a disgraceful way to treat the truck drivers and delivery workers who are essential to the functioning of our country.”
Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries.
- This story has been updated to include comments from Marc Garneau and Teamsters Canada.
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