Trucking and Covid-19 — Questions & Answers

by Today's Trucking

Covid-19 warning

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. Government offices are closing. 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.

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.

Drivers who show no signs of Covid-19 are not required to self-isolate themselves for 14 days just because they crossed the border.

“We’ve had zero reports – zero reports – of drivers with symptoms of Covid-19,” stresses Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. “It’s important for the supply chain in Canada and the U.S. to recognize that our driver community is healthy.”

But border officers are now asking drivers specific questions about whether anyone has been exposed to the virus. 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.

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.

Equipment editor Jim Park has compiled a series of recommendations to help keep cabs clean, ranging from general practices to the choice of cleaning solutions.

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.

The Alberta Motor Transport Association and Manitoba Trucking Association have both postponed their annual general meetings, but new dates have yet to be set. The Quebec Trucking Association has canceled its 69th annual Congress, and Truxpo has been postponed.

Events canceled south of the border include the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), which had been scheduled for March 26-28 in Louisville, Ky.

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.

For more details, click here.

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

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.

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.

Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan 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.

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.

OnRoute, which operates 23 travel plazas in Ontario, has closed its dining areas. But they remain open for takeout and grab-and-go meals. Pilot Flying J, which has 900 retail and fueling locations, is closing all self-serve food counters, but following strict cleaning protocols in locations where dining is still allowed.

Both the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and American Trucking Associations (ATA) have been calling on all levels of government to ensure other rest areas remain open 24/7.

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 May 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. What if I can’t complete my drug or alcohol testing?

Cross-border truck drivers continue to operate under drug and alcohol testing requirements, but the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has offered some extra guidance in the case of disruptions.

“If you are unable to conduct DOT drug or alcohol training or testing due to Covid-19-related supply shortages, facility closures, state or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments, you are to continue to comply with existing applicable DOT agency requirements to document why a test was not completed,” it said in a statement.

That guidance is in effect until May 30.

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. Could the B.C. government really take control of the province’s supply chain?

Canada’s westernmost province has established the power to take control of the supply chain under powers of the Emergency Program Act, as it looks to maintain essential goods and services.

A new Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit would coordinate the distribution of goods and services “in partnership with industry”. Although details about how that would work have yet to be released.

The province could also identify and take control of warehouses and other facilities to gather supplies and resources if needed.

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

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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?

  • 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 ?!

  • 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?