View From the Legislature

Honouring Professional Drivers

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

Last week was National Trucking Week, an annual time when various provincial trucking associations honour the job that our professional drivers do ensuring that the shelves of our stores remain stocked for customers and that online packages get delivered. This was an especially important year for this recognition as during part of 2020 it was not always certain that those supply chains would remain open.

In the early part of this year when COVID19 was just beginning to emerge in our country, many Canadians were trying to determine how they could work from home. That option was not available for those professional drivers who make their living literally being away from home either on short or long-haul deliveries. When the pandemic began, health officials where establishing protocols that in many ways restricted people from attending their regular workplaces. At the same time, protocols were being developed that would allow drivers to keep their trucks on the road because it was recognized how important it was to keep those supply channels open and running.

In fact, even though the Canada-United States border has been closed for recreational travel for months, there was immediately provisions put in place to ensure that commercial truck traffic could continue.

The recognition of how important commercial trucking is made the work of professional drivers essential. And even as their work continued, in the early part of the pandemic many of the services that they relied upon were interrupted. Restaurants, card lock stores and some rest areas became inaccessible for many professional drivers across the country. As well, while the nature of their job is somewhat isolated, travelling across borders with even limited personal interaction brought not only a risk for them but for their loved ones as well.

Through all these challenges however came the realization for the rest of us just how critical the work of truck drivers is to ensure that the goods we rely upon are available. Because Manitoba and the southeast portion of the province are home to many professional drivers and trucking companies, we have long understood the economic importance of this industry. But during the pandemic, we began to see more and more positive acts of appreciation for these drivers as that realization grew. From along the roadside to social media (where the hashtag #ThankATrucker began to trend) Canadians, who themselves were limited in their travels, began to thank those who did it for a living.

As we move into the fall and Canadians continue to adapt and learn to live with the virus, the work of professional drivers across Canada is just as vital to our health and to our economy. While National Trucking Week has generally been the time to shine a spotlight on this important industry, this year it seems that the appreciation will extend well beyond a one-week period. Collectively, we thank the thousands of drivers who are keeping goods moving and we wish you safety in your work and travel.