Trucking industry quotes on Covid-19

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Covid-19 and trucking

TORONTO, Ont. — There’s a lot to be said about the fight against Covid-19, especially in the context of trucking. Here are some of the quotes from the past week alone.

“Trucking will not be affected.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada and the U.S. has banned non-essential traffic from the border, but politicians on both sides of the border stressed that travel relating to trade and commerce – like trucking – would continue.

“Throughout history our nation’s truck drivers have been called upon to support Canada, assist Canadians, and keep our economy going. We are proud how they’ve answered the call once again during this crisis.”

Stephen Laskowski, Canadian Trucking Alliance

The president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the largest trucking organization in Canada, stressed the important role of truck drivers in maintaining the supply chain.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

Joe Glionna, Newcom Media

Truck World, Canada’s largest trucking industry trade show, was among the industry events to be rescheduled or canceled as the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

“If trucking is essential, then so are truck drivers. Facilities cannot accept the goods truck drivers bring them while barring truck drivers. Protecting shipping staff does not require endangering trucking staff who need washrooms to hand wash, etc.”

Terry Shaw, Manitoba Trucking Association

The executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association took to Twitter with a message for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, calling on shippers to support those who deliver the freight.

“There are major implications for a number of freight-intensive economic sectors, and we are just on the cusp of feeling that pinch.”

Kenny Vieth, ACT

The president and senior analyst of ACT, an industry analyst, warned that the economic implications of Covid-19 were going to spread.

“We are seeing the healthcare, home essential, food goods, and cleaning supplies sectors all pick up, while automotive, electronics, and want-vs.-need items were flat.”

Derek Koza, Wellington Group of Companies

The early days of Covid-19 saw some consumers hoarding supplies, leading to temporary shortages on store shelves. But that led to a surge in freight activity to restock everyone. Wellington delivered 28 loads of toilet paper to one U.S. region in a single week.

“We are hearing a lot of talk about the need to keep our economy running, but nothing about the safety of those who are helping it keep running.”

Joanne Mackenzie, driver

The business of trucking continues in a pandemic, but drivers and fleets also need to follow practices that keep everyone safe.

“They’re asking, ‘Did you fly outside of North America?’ And ‘Did you have any fever?’ Otherwise it’s all normal.”

Anil Raveendran, owner-operator

New screening procedures at the border boiled down to two key questions. Where have you been, and are you showing signs of Covid-19.

“You are getting fuel surcharge receipts coming in that are based on considerably higher diesel prices, so you will get a little bump there, but that comes to an end eventually and will reverse at some point.”

Avery Vise, FTR

The vice-president of trucking for FTR, which analyzes the trucking industry, was tracking a steep and sudden drop in fuel prices. But he also encouraged fleets to “bank every dime they can over the next several weeks.”

“Governments, especially state and local executives, are issuing important guidance – closures and restrictions – to help slow and stop the spread of the virus in impacted communities. Let me assure you, the trucks are delivering vital supplies to communities now, but confusion and lack of clarity are causing delays and problems.”

Chris Spear, American Trucking Associations

The head of the American Trucking Associations wrote U.S. President Donald Trump, stressing the need to exempt trucking services from restrictions as governments limit travel, close public facilities, and quarantine communities.

“They are not travelers. They are there to work.”

Marc-Andre Hubert, CH Express

CH Express, a fleet based in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, employs several European truck drivers who have yet to receive their permanent residence status. Hubert, the general manager, was worried that they might be caught up in border restrictions. But Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency later clarified that all truck drivers – whether they are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, temporary foreign workers (TFW) or workers on visas — would be exempt from a 14-day self-quarantine rule that applies to other people crossing the border.

“We are in stressful times. Therefore, we don’t want to add any unnecessary worries for companies and their drivers that are doing exceptional work out there, moving products to make sure shelves are replenished.”

Jean Marc Picard, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association

The head of Atlantic Canada’s largest trucking organization was looking for a document from the federal government that would expressly state that all truck drivers would be allowed to continue to cross the border. A few trucks had been turned around at the border because of the way travel restrictions had been interpreted by border officials.

“In the coming weeks and months, it will be critical that these businesses remain open, 24 hours per day, providing America’s truck drivers with fuel, food, showers, repair services, and opportunities to rest.”

Jim Mullen, U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The head of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wrote NATSO, a group representing travel plaza and truck stop operators in the U.S., to keep the doors open amid the fight against Covid-19.

“Our showers are open, and we are cleaning each shower after each use with degreaser, disinfectant and floor cleaner.”

Pilot Flying J

Chains of commercial truck stops committed to remain open, although it’s not exactly business as usual. Some locations have closed dining areas and introduced enhanced cleaning measures in the fight against Covid-19.

“By exempting retail businesses from the city’s noise bylaw right now, we will ensure that retailers can receive deliveries 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

John Tory, Toronto mayor

The mayor of Canada’s largest city announced that retailers would be exempted from community noise bylaws to ensure round-the-clock deliveries in the response to Covid-19.

“No federal safety guidelines have been made available to protect truck drivers, who need to travel to the U.S. and across the country to keep Canadians supplied.”

Francois Laporte, Teamsters Canada

Canada has announced an $82-billion relief package to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic, with $27 billion in direct support for workers and businesses, but the president of the Teamsters Canada union believes more can be done.

“Our two countries are so reliant on each other, if you closed the border to trade you could almost be said to be harming the health and welfare of our citizens.”

Mike Millian, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada

As non-essential traffic was banned from the border, the president of the private fleet organization was worried about bottlenecks that might occur with additional screening requirements.

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

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