'When you gotta go, you gotta go:' Eastern Ontario truck drivers welcome proposed legislation allowing delivery workers to access bathrooms
OTTAWA -- A proposed new Ontario law may soon bring relief to those working behind the wheel.
The Ontario government will introduce legislation that would allow delivery workers access to bathrooms at businesses where they are delivering or picking up items.
Roland LaFlamme has been driving a truck for 50 years; but, with businesses restricting access during the pandemic, drivers like him don’t always have somewhere to, 'go.'
"Especially on that highway, here, on (Highway) 17," LaFlamme says. "After Pembroke, there’s no other place we can stop for a washroom."
The legislation, if passed, will apply to couriers, truck drivers, and food delivery workers access to washrooms.
"These workers have been there for all of us during the pandemic; we ought to be there for them; it’s time we give these drivers a break," said Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton at a press conference Wednesday.
"This is something most people in Ontario take for granted but access to washrooms is a matter of common decency currently being denied to hundreds of thousands of workers in this province," McNaughton adds in a statement.
"When you gotta go number two, you think you can hold it?" says truck driver Howard Boudreau, while stopping at the Antrim Truck Stop in Arnprior, Ont. "When you gotta go, you gotta go!"
Boudreau says the pandemic has made life on the road tougher, and welcomes the proposed change.
"It gets frustrating sometimes, it does. I find it insulting at times when clients don’t let you use their washroom."
Steven Artuso just started driving for Uber Eats.
"Well, actually - yesterday during my first day, it was already a concern,” he says, while picking up an order outside of a west Ottawa McDonalds. "So, I’m sure for people doing it for over a year - yeah, that’s definitely a big concern for them. So yeah, I think it should be allowed."
Officials say the proposed legislation will only apply to businesses where workers are picking up or delivering items, and is not applicable to private residences.
The measures came after consultations through the government’s Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, in which officials say they learned that delivery workers, including those who work for online platforms such as Uber Eats, are often denied use of washrooms at businesses.
The Ontario Trucking Association said in a statement that they are "thankful" for the proposed legislation.
Officials say that on average 203,700 people in Ontario were working as transport, bus, taxi and delivery drivers in 2020. During that same year, on average 30,800 people in the province worked as mail, couriers, messengers and door-to-door distributors.
With files from CTV News Toronto Multi-Platform Writer Katherine DeClerq