Trucking and Covid-19 — Questions & Answers

by Today's Trucking

TORONTO, Ont. — As Today’s Trucking continues its coverage of Covid-19 and the impact on trucking, this page will be updated with links to related resources and news.

1. What if my licence or registration is about to expire?

Provinces and territories across Canada have rolled out a series of changes to driver and vehicle licensing procedures and deadlines against a backdrop of Covid-19. But the specific strategies vary from one jurisdiction to the next.

For the complete list, visit www.ccmta.ca.

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it will accept Canadian truck driver licences that have expired since March 1, under a notice that’s effective until Sept. 30.

2. What can truck drivers expect when crossing the border?

The Canada-U.S. border has been tightened in the fight against the Covid-19 virus, but remains open for the business of trucking between the two countries.

Loads of cargo have been deemed an “essential service“, while other traffic is restricted until at least July 21.

Truck drivers who show no signs of Covid-19 are not required to self-isolate themselves for 14 days just because they crossed the border. They will, however, need to enter a 14-day quarantine if they display signs of the virus.

Border officers are now asking drivers specific questions about whether anyone has been exposed to Covid-19. And U.S.-bound truck drivers that have returned from a known international “hot spot” for the virus in the preceding 14 days will be denied entry.

As of midnight on April 15, border-crossing drivers have also been required to wear non-medical face masks. Personal contact information is also being connected from Canada-bound drivers, although it can be submitted in advance using a new app.

3. How can truck drivers protect themselves from the virus?

Covid-19 can remain viable for hours or days, depending on the surface involved. In other words, just about anything that is touched during the course of a workday will require regular cleanings. Steering wheels. Door handles. Gladhands. You name it.

Canada’s transportation ministers have published guidance on the use of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and truck cab cleaning. For the details, click here.

The federal government has also established an online hub to help source the PPE supplies.

4. What’s happening to scheduled trucking industry events?

Several trucking-related trade shows, conferences and events have been canceled or postponed as crowd sizes are limited in the name of public health.

Truck World, Newcom Media’s national trade show serving Canada’s trucking industry, has been rescheduled to Sept. 24-26.

Canadian industry associations to cancel annual events have included the British Columbia Trucking Association, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and Quebec Trucking Association.

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada has rescheduled its annual meeting to Sept. 8-10 in Niagara Falls. And the Alberta Motor Transport Association has opted to host a fall AGM and one-day conference on Oct. 23. The Ontario Trucking Association’s executive conference is still scheduled for Nov. 11-12.

Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive conference went on as scheduled in Toronto on March 12 — complete with bottles of hand sanitizer on every table — but a reception that was planned for the end of the day was canceled, with organizers also citing Covid-19 concerns.

5. What can fleets do to help keep people safe?

The business of trucking continues, even as other workplaces are temporarily shutting down.

But there are still steps to follow to protect those who remain on the job — ranging from the regular cleaning of equipment, to personal hygiene practices, and establishing Covid-19-specific policies and procedures.

Looking for other Covid-19 guidance and free resources for your business? Try these links:

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Understanding Covid-19
https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/coronavirus.html

Covid-19 tip sheet
https://www.ccohs.ca//images/products/pandemiccovid19/pdf/transportation.pdf

Canadian Trucking Alliance Covid-19 tip sheet
http://cantruck.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CTA-COVID-19-Resources-for-Carriers_public.pdf

World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for Covid:19
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=359a81e7_6

Government of Canada: Resources for Canadian businesses
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html

Government of Canada: Risk-informed decision-making guidelines
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/risk-informed-decision-making-workplaces-businesses-covid-19-pandemic.html

Government of Canada: Preventing Covid-19 in the workplace
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/preventing-covid-19-workplace-employers-employees-essential-service-workers.html

Canada Post: Practicing social distancing
https://infopost.ca/mismih/

Trucking HR Canada: Covid-19 resource guide for trucking and logistics
https://truckinghr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Covid19_Resourceguidev3d.pdf

Canadian Urban Transit Association: Guidance for the Public Transit Industry
https://cutaactu.ca/en/content/covid-19-resources

International Association of Public Transport: Management of Covid-19 guidelines for public transport operators
https://cutaactu.ca/sites/default/files/covid-19_guidelines_for_transit_operators.pdf

Mental Health Commission of Canada: Choosing information sources for mental wellbeing
https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/news-article/13920/choosing-sources-information-carefully-critical-covid-19-mental-well-being-says

6. Is it even possible for dispatchers and operations teams to work from home?

The freight has to move when the freight has to move. But some trucking industry workplaces had already established flexible hours that could also be used to support the “social distancing” that will help in the fight against Covid-19.

“Transportation has a stigma that, ‘You’re a dispatcher, you have to work in the office. You’re a planner, you have to work in the office.’ That’s not the case,” Challenger Motor Freight HR manager Randi Butcher said, during a presentation at Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive conference.

The focus is on ensuring work is completed.

One for Freight operations teams have also proven they can successfully dispatch equipment from afar, said Stephanie Carruth, who supports research and development at the fleet.

Some fleets are even thinking about making the telecommuting a permanent feature.

7. Is there any hours-of-service relief for those hauling emergency supplies?

Canada has introduced an Essential Freight Transport Exemption for federally regulated carriers and drivers who are moving essential Covid-19 supplies and equipment as part of the emergency relief effort.

The rules still require drivers to maintain logs, and carriers using the exemption must follow a list of criteria such as notifying an hours of service director where they plan to use the exemption, identifying all the drivers and vehicles that will use it, and including a copy of the exemption in every vehicle. Drivers who are using the exemption will need to note that in the remarks section of a daily log.

Eligible items for the exemption are medical supplies and equipment, food, sanitary supplies, equipment and supplies for temporary housing and quarantine facilities, medical personnel, and persons for transport for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.

The exemption is scheduled to be in place until at least April 30. But all other aspects of hours-of-service regulations remain in place.

Several provinces have unveiled similar relief within their jurisdictions.

The U.S. had previously issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service (HOS) relief to interstate truck drivers moving emergency supplies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s the first time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued such nationwide relief.

8. Is there any more flexibility in scheduling deliveries?

Ontario and British Columbia have both announced they are postponing municipal noise bylaws and other local delivery restrictions to allow for off-peak deliveries.

The City of Toronto was one of the first jurisdictions to exempt retail businesses from the community’s noise bylaws to facilitate 24-hour deliveries in the midst of its response to Covid-19.

The need for the added flexibility had been raised by the Retail Council of Canada.

Ontario, meanwhile, has also eased the restrictions to operate Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs) before and after long weekends.

9. Will truck stops remain open?

Truck stops across North America are keeping their doors open, but many have adjusted everything from available dining services to cleaning protocols in the fight against Covid-19.

Looking for a location with open doors? Several directories have been compiled here.

10. Can foreign workers employed as truck drivers continue to cross the border?

Truck drivers who are foreign workers and need to cross the Canada-U.S. border during their shipments will be allowed to return to Canada, Today’s Trucking has confirmed, following questions raised by the Quebec Trucking Association.

The news has been confirmed by the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and clarified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Grey areas like these have been a particular concern as Canada and the U.S. restricts non-essential travel between the two countries. But trade and commerce continues.

11. Will out-of-country medical insurance cover truck drivers if they get Covid-19 while driving in the U.S.?

Canada’s truck drivers have been assured they will be covered by life and health insurers’ out-of-country medical coverage if they are infected with the Covid-19 virus while in the U.S.

“With restrictions to non-essential travel beginning in the coming days, Canada’s insurers want to be clear that commercial truckers will not lose their group out-of-country medical coverage due to recent travel restrictions,” said Stephen Frank, president and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. “The commercial trucking industry is providing crucial services to support Canadians with goods at all times, but particularly now.”

12. How are customs programs like FAST affected?

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have postponed all FAST interviews scheduled between March 19 and June 1.

Carriers and drivers can log into their Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) System account to reschedule appointments.

“CBSA has also clarified that FAST members who have submitted an application for membership renewal prior to the expiry date on their card will maintain their membership and remain in active status for 18 months beyond the expiry date and will be allowed to access FAST designated lanes,” the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) reports.

Trusted traders who are members in Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) and Partners in Protection (PIP) who are up for re-validation will also maintain their trusted status as long as they continue to comply with program requirements, the alliance adds.

13. What can I use to wipe down surfaces?

Everything that’s touched has to be cleaned in the fight against Covid-19, but what will actually work?

Health Canada has published a list of cleaning products found to be effective. Another option is a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water. Click here for details.

14. Do furloughed truck drivers need to complete pre-employment drug testing?

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted furloughed drivers a three-month waiver from certain pre-employment testing requirements because of Covid-19.

Further details are available here.

15. Where can fleet managers get information on Covid-19 labor issues?

Covid-19 has introduced several new issues when it comes to managing fleet employees. Are you eligible for the federal emergency response benefit? And how would you deal with a work refusal?

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has compiled a list of contacts to answer several related questions. Visit

http://ontruck.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CTA-Covid-19-Labour-Resources_public.pdf .

16. How can you balance social distancing and in-cab training?

Maintaining a 2-meter social distance can be difficult to do, especially in the confines of a truck no more than 2.6 meters wide.

Ontario’s Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, working with Concrete Ontario and the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario, has responded with a series of guidelines for classrooms and in-vehicle work alike.

It may even be possible to maintain the social distance when trainees are behind the wheel.

17. Where can I find more Covid-19 information?

Each provincial and territorial government is publishing Covid-19 updates on a regular basis. The links are below.

Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

British Columbia

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support

Alberta

https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

Saskatchewan

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2020/march/20/~/link.aspx?_id=6C6BF971659346E0B8E9DE4AE3B2AFF9&_z=z

Manitoba

https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/index.html

Ontario

https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus

Quebec

https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/

New Brunswick

https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/news/news_release.2020.03.0139.html

Nova Scotia

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#alerts

P.E.I.

https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/covid-19

Newfoundland and Labrador

https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/

Yukon

https://yukon.ca/en/information-about-novel-coronavirus-yukoners

Northwest Territories

https://www.gov.nt.ca/en/public-safety-notices

Nunavut

https://www.gov.nu.ca/news

U.S.

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19

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  • The National truck league insurance has deemed commercial travel across the border non essential, I for one find myself in the US without insurance for the virus. Has any other insurances done the same thing that you have heard? I find this absolutely disgraceful at this unprecedented time in our history. Cross border freight at this moment is paramount, I would argue never been so “essential” shippers receivers those in the supply industry must continue working for as long as we can, until this moment in time passes as it surely will, for however ong as it takes. We are not on the frontline of this virus fight but for sure if we stop moving those on the front line will soon grind to a halt.

  • Providing rubber gloves and sanitizer is helpful but Canadian cross-border drivers need to know that they will be supported fully if they have to self isolate due to testing positive for Covid-19. If the driver is quarantined for 2 weeks in the States he/she will lose income. They can apply for EI benefits but at a reduced amount. However, who will pay for the cost of staying in a motel and any associated costs? If he/she doesn’t need to stay in a hospital, their truck is not an appropriate alternative for that period of time.

    Has this potential issue been discussed? I certainly have not heard anything.

  • We were notified by our company’s benefits carrier that our drivers would not be covered by health insurance if they travel to a country that our federal government has issued a travel advisory for. (USA) They bailed early on an essential service and I believe we will all remember that when this is all over.

  • My son-in-law works in the trucking industry. He crosses the border daily and is away all week. Is it safe for him to go home to his wife and toddler during the week-ends, or should he stay away to avoid contaminating them if he ever gets sick?

    • My husband trucks fr NS to Montreal. He also goes twice a trip to North / South Carolina and back. In six days. So he crosses US border every week.

      He has been self isolating from us over the ten weeks now each time he comes home . I read where he’s exempt fr self isolating. But I understood we couldn’t leave the house . His family if he lived with us,
      Now I’m ready to re open my day care. If he lives in same house can I in NS work in my day care with a household member that has crossed the USA border.

  • I sympathize with those that can’t work because of COVID 19,and the financial burden it poses ..but as a Truck Driver who has to work and risk exposure everyday from people and freight … I think we should be compensated as well ? We are the Lifeline as we always have been and without truckers North America shuts down !How about Time and a half per hour would be nice ?!

    • as we do not get “time” then time and a half is meaningless, dont worry when this is all over truck drivers will get screwed even more than normal

  • I have my own small trucking company and because it’s not essential I have to shut down my business.
    All I hear is about senior citizens and daycare workers and as for seniors they are not losing any money they are still getting their cheques every month but if I don’t move the trucks I don’t have any income.
    What is out there to help my company to continue paying my bills?

  • my husband is a trucker from Ottawa, On. Ca to the US back and forth daily. Can I still go to my work?

  • If I an climbing into a truck that has recently been vacated by another driver is the company required to clean and sanitize the cab and sleeper?

  • I was talking recently to a friend who teaches at MIT. His field is hot now and every year he is inundated by applications from would-be graduate students. “A lot of them seem smart,” he said. “What I can’t tell is whether they have any kind of taste.” — Paul Graham

  • Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. — Alfred North Whitehead (Introduction to Mathematics)

  • My husband is a US truck driver who will be crossing back and forth over the Canadian Border this summer. I am in the truck with him. If this pandemic is not over by July (which is doubtful) will I be allowed to accompany him to Canada this summer even if I have my US passport?

  • about reproducing reality; It’s about bumping it up. — Brad Bird, writer and director, The Incredibles