'We're pushed to the limit': Truckers voice concerns over working conditions amid supply chain woes
The Ontario government is tabling new legislation that would allow truckers and transportation workers to use washrooms at the businesses they are delivering to or picking up goods from.
The province’s labour minister, Monte McNaughton, provided details Wednesday for the new law that, if passed, would be the first of its kind in Canada and ostensibly among all Western countries.
McNaughton called it a “matter of common decency being denied to hundreds of thousands of workers in this province,” at a media availability, “something most people in Ontario take for granted.”
This comes less than a week after more than a dozen transporters across the country described worsening work conditions, breakneck deadlines amid the pandemic and their perspective on stalled wages in the sector for a BNN Bloomberg feature report.
The federal government of Canada has yet to respond to these circumstances, despite several requests to multiple departments.
“Workers who deliver and pick up goods have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, ensuring that essential supplies continue to reach the people of Ontario,” McNaughton said.
“Providing these hard-working men and women with access to washrooms is a small change that will make a big difference, so they can do their jobs with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Three truckers — among the many others who voiced their concerns in interviews — agreed with McNaughton: It is a very little step. However, it is enough to provide them with much-needed hope, they said.
Sergio Machado, a 52-year-old trucker from Edmonton, pulled over for a quick chat by phone Wednesday while driving in Quebec.
“It shows somebody is finally listening. Because for years, no one really has,” Machado said. “I just hope others can start looking at this as well now, because we’ve been treated like scum for decades — which only got worse and was only exposed during COVID.”
Phillip Adler, a trucker in his 20s from rural Manitoba, said Ontario’s decision only addresses one of the many concerns that truckers have raised about their industry.
Steve Roach, who has been working in the field for 15 years, said the next step is to address the real reasons behind the “vicious cycle'' that is causing extreme labour shortages of truckers in Canada.
“We need to be treated the way other skilled labourers are treated,” he said Wednesday. “And we need governments to ensure companies take loyalty, incentives and our treatment seriously — beyond just washrooms.”