As Canadians across the country stay home in an effort to flatten the curve, truck drivers have ramped up efforts to keep the supply chain moving.
The president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association said while the movement of food to restaurants has slowed, those hauling groceries are very busy moving a lot more product than usual.
“With the truckers, we need to be out there,” Chris Nash said. “We have to be out keeping the goods moving, supply chain moving — medical equipment, goods that we eat… If we don’t have the truckers, it’s a lot bigger problem.
“They are out when everyone else is home and doing their part to stop the spread, they’re out there making things move.”
Nash said the AMTA has made some changes to ensure the safety of drivers, including no longer requiring signatures on bills of lading to ensure physical distance recommendations are followed.
Nash said another main focus is ensuring truckers have what they need to keep the supply chain moving — this includes keeping rest stops open and ensuring access to the tools and supplies they need to operate safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest things they need and the hardest things to get are the tools on the road — the sanitizer, the wipes, the things that they need, toilet paper. Keeping facilities open to get to when you can’t walk up to a drive-through,” he said.
“We’re seeing things happening and that’s what we need. We need to keep the supply chain moving and the drivers need all the tools to do it.”
Trucker Chris Knee said closures and restrictions are “causing problems everywhere.”
“Everything is shut down,” he said. “You can’t go into eat, you can’t do nothing, you can’t even go in for a shower some places. If you go to a customer, you can’t go inside to use the washroom now.”
“It’s tough. Everybody’s scared.”
Monty Bliss, another trucker, told Global News that lineups to cross the border are getting longer as checks and screening is getting more stringent.
Trucker Chris MacArthur said people panic buying is making the situation even harder for truckers.
“Everyone is going to the store and buying everything and it’s making all these guys have to run harder and making all these things happen,” MacArthur said.
“If people would just buy what they need and only what they need, this wouldn’t be happening right now.”
He said the restrictions at restaurants are frustrating.
“Everything is shutting down for us — no food, no showers,” he said.
“Some places are getting open for drive-thrus but a lot of places won’t let us walk through drive-thrus. Everybody wants their product delivered but they want to shut everything down on us.”
A movement has grown on social media, asking Canadians to #thankatrucker for their efforts to keep supplies moving to those who need them most.
“With families home and incomes being lost and everything, truckers are out there to make sure the good are still moving. Obviously being out there, there’s more chance of exposure. However, our number one is the safety of the driver, number two is to keep the supply chain moving,” Nash said.
“If you can help a trucker in any way, make their job any easier, give them a wave, give them support — right now we need our supply chain more than ever.
“Can’t say it enough — thank a trucker. This is what it’s all about. They’re making the necessities and luxuries of life for us every day, 24/7.”
The AMTA has resources for drivers on its website, including government advisories, workplace resources, Workers’ Compensation Board updates and AMTA statements.