The presence of COVID-19 created a time of uncertainty, where many questions suddenly couldn't be answered. The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) had to act quickly, decipher through the daily reports of information and communicate the latest updates
on safety measures, restrictive hours, and means of access to PPE, supplies, food and shelter to its members – all while advocating for the industry’s safety and well-being amongst levels of government.
Meanwhile, the industry showed resiliency by rising to its definition of 'being an essential service,' adapting to the ongoing evolution of safety measures, and protecting its employees and customers alike from contracting COVID-19.
It was a time that introduced new obstacles and created a 'domino effect' – showing the chain of impact from industry-to-industry, industry-to-business, and business-to-consumer – but the PMTC and industry had a powerful advocate in their corner: Transport Canada.
Transport Canada led the charge in developing educational resources, safety measures, guidelines and requirements for the industry and worked with PMTC to ensure that the industry's needs were met and drivers were safe, while operating on the front line.
Private Motor Carrier had the opportunity to connect with Transport Canada and ask some questions about working with PMTC and the industry, responding to the impacts of COVID-19 and leading the way during uncertain times.
What precautions have you put in place to protect drivers in the trucking industry? What is Transport Canada doing to ensure that the trucking industry is operating safely and that businesses and communities are
served during this time?
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the trucking industry, and Transport Canada recognizes the work that has been accomplished by all Canadians working in the commercial vehicle and logistics sectors. The dedication and commitment of these essential workers have ensured the continued movement of goods and the ongoing delivery of essential services to Canadians across the country, and they have helped maintained access to essential goods and helped the economy during this difficult time.
Transport Canada recognizes the need to keep drivers and passengers safe as they travel to carry out their functions delivering essential goods and services. Transport Canada, together with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, the trucking industry, and unions, has developed federal safety guidelines to protect commercial drivers, which provides essential information to drivers and passengers to help them limit the spread of COVID-19 in commercial vehicle operations. It offers public health information, as well as tips on disinfection, hand-washing, wearing face coverings, and self-monitoring to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Transport Canada also developed an employment confirmation template letter for essential transportation workers in the commercial motor vehicle and automotive industry to help identify critical service employees during the COVID-19 epidemic. This letter can be presented to authorities at checkpoints should they wish to verify essential transportation employee status. Note that this letter should be used exclusively for the purpose of identifying essential transportation workers as defined in the Government of Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
While commercial drivers are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirements for business purposes, when off-duty, they should follow the recommendations established by local and national public health authorities. For more information, please refer to www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html.
The full range of COVID-19 measures, updates, and guidance are also available and regularly updated and made available on the Transport Canada website,
Are you working with other connected sectors/businesses (i.e. rest stops) to ensure that supports, services and accommodations are place for those on the road?
Transport Canada is maintaining daily contact with the trucking industry, other key industry partners, labour representatives, U.S. counterparts, and provincial and territorial governments to support direct assistance efforts in response to COVID-19. Together we worked collaboratively to find solutions to logistical challenges that have emerged since the onset of the pandemic, including those posed by the closure of rest stops. Several steps have been taken to improve the availability of rest stops and washrooms, such as:
• Transport Canada is collaborating with governments to ensure that the washrooms at gas stations and restaurants remain open and allow access to truckers. Work is also continuing with the provinces and territories to explore options to increase accessibility and fill gaps where possible;
• Transport Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) are working together with industry partners to encourage restaurants and other service providers to support commercial drivers’ needs and provide them with access to restrooms; and
• ESDC is also developing communication campaigns with the support of Transport Canada to raise awareness of the need for restroom access.
Roadside rest areas fall under provincial and territorial responsibility, and each provincial and territorial government may provide additional information regarding this matter for their respective jurisdictions.
Are you working with the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, and other Associations to put forward communication and/or develop or support programs and resources that will aid the industry during this time? If so, could you provide an example of two?
Transport Canada would like to recognize the important leadership role of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), among other associations and stakeholder groups, with respect to safely supporting the supply chain during the pandemic, and managing a safe and orderly restart of the transportation system. To support this collaborative approach, Transport Canada holds daily calls with key industry associations to discuss challenges related to commercial vehicle operations during the pandemic. Our partners were consulted as we developed guidelines that are posted on our website, and we will maintain this ongoing dialogue with respect to any additional documents that may be produced.
Transport Canada continues to count on the PMTC to play an important role in the industry and by supporting ongoing efforts to prioritize road safety during these uncertain times.
Is Transport Canada putting forward any funding to support the industry in response to COVID-19? If so, how much funding is being dedicated to the industry and where is it going?
With respect to economic impacts on the trucking industry, it is important to note that Finance Canada has announced a number of financial assistance programs during COVID-19, which are available to the trucking industry and drivers (e.g. Business Credit Availability Program, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and measures to defer tax payments for businesses). These programs are described at www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#businesses.
Looking ahead, how will Transport Canada recognize and support the trucking industry in the future?
Transport Canada will continue to work with provinces/territories and industry partners to advance a consistent, national approach to commercial motor vehicle safety through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). This includes oversight and maintenance of the National Safety Code for Motor Carriers (www.ccmta.ca/en/publications/national-safety-code/national-safety-code-single-standards). This Code sets out a number of operational safety standards for commercial vehicles, including carrier and driver profiles, safety ratings, hours of service, and facility audits.
Of note, at the February 2020 meeting of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety, Ministers approved a national standard for entry-level training for commercial drivers. This standard will help to ensure that drivers have the necessary knowledge and skills to safely operate commercial vehicles across Canada. Development of a national standard represents an important milestone for road safety in Canada, and is now a key feature of the National Safety Code.
During this same meeting, Ministers approved a series of updated standards that cover knowledge and performance tests for drivers, driver examiner training, and the classified driver licensing system. These updated standards support reciprocity and consistency across Canadian jurisdictions with respect to the testing and licensing of commercial drivers.
Transport Canada is looking forward to making progress on these important truck safety initiatives with trucking industry stakeholders and provincial/territorial partners.
The department would also like to thank the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada and the industry associations, and our provincial/territorial counterparts for their commitment to service and ongoing collaboration throughout these
Follow-up with PMTC President Mike Millian
During the unprecedented times of COVID-19, which progressed and changed the way we lived our lives almost overnight in Canada, the trucking industry and governments came together quickly to work on solutions for the issues our industry was facing.
Transport Canada and our industry began to work together on guidelines prior to shutdowns beginning. The team at Transport Canada connected with our office and were available on evenings and weekends as the rapidly-changing environment of this pandemic became a 24-hour, all-consuming issue for everyone.
The work that our industry and governments have done together to ensure the industry is able to work through these issues have been incredible. We at the PMTC cannot say enough about how our governments and governmental departments have come together to quickly respond and act to any changes that industry has asked for.
Transport Canada has been a leader on this front, and we can’t thank its team enough for the work they have done and how (in many cases) they have gone above and beyond their required duties to help us, our members, and our drivers.
Although all of our lives have been dramatically affected and forever changed as a result of COVID-19, the teamwork and spirit of Canadians always prevails; when this is over, relationships like this will help us rise to new heights once again as we recover our lives and economies together.”