GUEST COLUMN: Couldn’t function in COVID without truckers

GUEST COLUMN: Couldn’t function in COVID without truckers

During national trucking week, Langley group spotlights what went into ensuring drivers keep rolling

By Dave Earle/Special to Langley Advance Times

As we approach six months into a global pandemic, “essential” has taken on a different meaning.

While economies shut down in an attempt to keep the coronavirus at bay and our health-care systems functioning, we all had to grapple with two questions: Could we operate virtually? And if not, was our service essential to daily life?

The British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) was lucky to be able to answer “yes” to the first question.

More importantly, our members could answer “yes” to the second.

Throughout the pandemic, trucking companies – and professional truck drivers in particular – have reliably provided an essential service that helped the rest of us survive.

But they didn’t do this in a vacuum. Many players helped out.

During national trucking week this year, Sept. 6 to 12, it seems right to acknowledge the community of effort that went into supporting our industry and its work.

We all had to pivot.

RELATED – THANK YOU ESSENTIAL WORKERS: Truckers facing long journeys alone in age of COVID-19

We worked with federal and provincial governments and health authorities to establish protocols and exemptions to allow food and supplies to flow safely across the country and the border.

Trucking companies learned to follow new health protocols, source and distribute masks, gloves and sanitizer to their drivers and staff, and figure out how to keep trucks on the road given changing demand and types of cargo for transport.

They couldn’t just shut down.

Professional drivers felt the profound impact of these changes and uncertainty.

Though truck drivers are already isolated in their vehicles while on the road, like other frontline workers they could not maintain an immediate-family-only bubble.

They not only had to think about their own exposure, but also the possibility of carrying the virus back to their loved ones.

They couldn’t stay in controlled workplaces. They relied on protocols to work in unfamiliar, uncertain environments.

And, all of us – worrying about potential quarantines, stocking our shelves, embracing online shopping – became hyper aware that we couldn’t function without truck drivers.

As other businesses struggled with the shutdown, truck drivers lost access to many of the services that would have helped them: restaurants, card lock stores, washrooms and some rest areas became off limits or, like drive-thru-only food services, impossible to use.

RELATED – VIDEO: Truck driver goes viral after blocking Aldergrove Tim Horton’s drive-thru

No one anticipated the breadth of these challenges, and they inspired an unprecedented response.

Restaurants, including small businesses in B.C. communities like Greenwood, Christina Lake, and Midway, figured out how to serve truck drivers.

A group of concerned business owners in Kamloops created a meal solution for drivers.

Deploying food trucks at card lock locations throughout B.C., with alerts for drivers via Facebook and a dedicated website, Meals for Truckers. From April to August, food trucks in Kamloops, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Chilliwack and, initially, Prince George served up meals and snacks.

BCTA members, individuals, organizations, and businesses voluntarily sponsored $70,000 in free meals for truck drivers at these locations.

Our provincial government also reacted, arranging for mobile washrooms at inspection stations and food trucks at B.C. rest areas serving commercial vehicles.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority set up washrooms for drivers hauling marine containers.

Hotels launched special “truck driver” rates, including for short stays, enough time for a nap and shower.

Communities like Valemount and Revelstoke contacted BCTA to share lists of local services catering to truck drivers.

This was happening not just in B.C., but across Canada and North America, as people posted “thank you” signs in their windows, handed out sandwiches and sanitizer, stood applauding passing rigs at roadsides and fences.

Use of the #ThankATrucker hashtag on social media, promoted by both the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations, is one indicator of the level of appreciation and encouragement.

The response of individuals, businesses and communities was heartwarming, welcome, and essential.

Without this support, the often invisible supply chain we all rely on would have crumbled.

COVID-19 is far from beaten.

But our industry and other essential service providers are still going strong.

Happy National Trucking Week to the industry, and, on behalf of BCTA’s members, thank you to all the players in our widespread and generous community for your understanding and support.

.

– David Earle is president and chief executive officer of BCTA – a member-based, non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization recognized as the voice of the provincial motor carrier industry, representing more than 1,200 truck and motor coach fleets and more than 200 suppliers to the industry. BCTA members operate over 16,000 vehicles, employ 26,000 people, and generate over $2.2 billion in revenue annually in the province.

.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: news@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

CoronavirusLangleyTransportationTrucks

Just Posted

(Pixabay Image)
Monday’s top temperature topples record in Agassiz

Temps reached into the low 30s to break records in Agassiz, Environment Canada says

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

Tourism Abbotsford has launched the ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign to encourage visitors to check out all Abbotsford has to offer. (Tourism Abbotsford photo)
Tourism Abbotsford launches ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign

Visitors encouraged to check out all Abbotsford has to offer this summer

A GoFundMe campaign has been started for Heather Jensen of Abbotsford, who is battling an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Online fundraiser started for Abbotsford woman fighting aggressive breast cancer

Heather Jensen is unable to work during her health battle

Temperature records were broken for June 21, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Record-breaking heat shimmered across Fraser Valley for second day

Tuesday should be a bit cooler says forecast from Environment Canada

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s so easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton of Point Roberts, Wash.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in December that Surrey’s new hospital will be located in Cloverdale, next to KPU. (File photo: Malin Jordan)
Health minister expects construction of Surrey’s new hospital in Cloverdale to begin in 2023, open in 2027

Adrian Dix spoke Tuesday in a Zoom meeting hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade concerning the new hospital

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

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

Most Read