(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

The federal NDP health critic says he is greatly concerned that there is no tracking of COVID-19 infections in long-haul truckers who are travelling back and forth across the United States border.

“I think Canadians should be not only concerned but alarmed,” said Don Davies, member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway.

The Public Health Agency of Canada does not collect information on long-haul truckers. The department deferred questions on COVID-19 cases in the industry to provinces and territories.

The majority of provinces, however, are not looking at infections in long-haul truckers, even though the drivers are among the few Canadians crossing into areas in the United States hard hit by the pandemic. The border between the two countries closed to most travellers in March. It is still open to people and businesses providing essential services.

As of Friday, there almost two million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 108,000 deaths.

Davies said truck drivers crossing the border should be tested and data should be collected at a federal level so as to know the risks involved in fully reopening the economy.

“That’s important not only for the health and safety of the truckers and their families, but for the community at large.”

Health officials in Manitoba said Friday that two new cases in the province have been linked to a long-haul trucker and a close contact. Two other Manitoba cases were linked last week to truckers who took multiple routes through the U.S. A cluster of at least 10 cases last month was also linked to a trucking company in the province.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said drivers, even those without symptoms, can now get tested for COVID-19.

Trucking is necessary for the supply of goods, he added, and there is some level of risk.

British Columbia health officials said it is not currently tracking cases by profession, but that will be implemented soon. Alberta is not releasing information about professions except in health-care workers.

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected. Quebec has issued special recommendations for truckers since they do not have to be in isolation for 14 days upon their return.

Transport Canada is regularly updated by provinces, industry and labour representatives about the impact of the virus. Department spokeswoman Frederica Dupuis said in an email that measures have been put in place to ensure driver safety and access to personal protective equipment. Dupuis, too, noted that data collection remains up to provinces and territories.

Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said he is not aware of any concerning number of drivers testing positive.

“We just haven’t had spikes or any problems out of the norm of society,” he said.

Access to testing has widened across Canada to include workers in the trucking industry. Laskowski said he isn’t distressed that specific statistics aren’t being collected.

Long-haul trucking as an industry largely keeps people distanced from one another, he said. And drivers and receivers have put in new protocols to ensure safety, he added.

“Long-haul truck-driving is self-isolation in itself,” he said.

“You can go days where maybe you deal with one person.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read