Canadian cross-border truckers willing to risk U.S. travel; others say it is not safe
BROCKVILLE -- At Kriska Transportation in Prescott, Ont., around 100 drivers cross the Canada-U.S. border every day, and CEO Mark Seymour says some drivers are concerned with how the U.S. is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The obvious concern is exposing themselves like anyone else would be to the virus. It hasn’t been a big problem thankfully for us, but I think it's the seriousness we take as well as our people whom are crossing the border every day," Seymour noted.
Fewer than five percent of his drivers will not cross into the U.S. due to the pandemic, and the company says they stand behind their employees.
“If anybody came to us with a concern it would be all hands on deck to do all we could to help them. We’re not going to make somebody do something they don't want to do. That doesn't work."
Cross-border truckers that spoke to CTV News Ottawa on Thursday say they are concerned about the number of cases in the U.S., with one driver deciding to stop going there back in June.
“The COVID virus was on my mind and when you have something on your mind you can't focus and driving over the highways requires you to have 100 per cent focus,” said Justin Martin from Belleville.
He said his reason to stop going south was that COVID-19 protocols differed from state to state.
"Some states nobody was wearing a mask. There was no (personal protective equipment). Even at our pickup and our drops they didn't have anything like hand sanitizer for the drivers, there was no mask protocol,” said Martin.
“Other states were full on (safety). They would take your temperature; they would have masks if you didn't have them.”
Martin said his employer, International Truckload Services, helped him out by offering a local job with no cross-border travel.
"They had the drivers' best interest. They said if you're not comfortable, by all means, we don't want you out there if you're concerned and you’re not going to be 100 per cent mind on the road,” said Martin.
He doesn’t regret his decision and said Canadians have followed the safety protocols very well.
“I’m 100 per cent sure I made the right choice. Canadians here, someone will wear a mask not because they think it will help them, but they’ll wear it because it will make someone else feel more safe,” Martin added.
Other drivers said crossing into the U.S. is a risk they are willing to take.
“It hasn’t really bothered me,” said Matthew Marchand, currently in Calgary heading to southern Texas this weekend.
“I spend the bulk of my time isolated. People talk about work/life balance, I live three-feet behind my workstation,” Marchand said.
He’s traveled the U.S. from coast to coast and says he takes the proper safety protocols when needed.
“I wear a mask when it makes sense to, when its appropriate. I do everything that is asked of me locally to comply with the law of the various places that I go.”
Marchand also stated that some of his co-workers didn’t think that U.S. travel was safe.
“Some older drivers felt it’s a risk to them, and they’ve opted not to go.”
Back in Prescott, Seymour says with the thousands of crossings his company does a week, they are making sure their drivers feel safe
"The experience that we’ve had in the last two to three months with zero cases, they are doing all the right things. And if they continue to do that they’ll continue to stay safe. That’s our belief,” Seymour said.
“Our truck drivers, men and women, are really the people whom we depend on a lot, so we have to care of them. We accommodate, we provide the support while they are on the road during a pandemic or not.”