Manitoba truck drivers refused service as COVID-19 stigma grows, chief public health officer says

Reports of poor treatment of truck drivers ‘a bit disappointing’ to hear, says Dr. Brent Roussin

Truck drivers in Manitoba are reporting being stigmatized and even refused service, as more truckers in the province test positive for COVID-19, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer says.

“[It’s] a bit disappointing to hear some of the adverse things that are directed to truck drivers in the province,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday.

“We shouldn’t be stigmatizing truck drivers. We should be thanking them. They’ve kept our supply chain open during these difficult times. They’re taking risks to keep our supply chains moving.”

Roussin’s comments came during a Thursday afternoon joint press conference with Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen, to announce plans for how classes will return in September and provide a provincial COVID-19 update.

On Monday, public health officials announced a truck driver in his 40s from the Southern health region had tested positive for COVID-19.

That followed announcements of two other cases in the past week of truck drivers contracting the illness: a man in his 30s on Saturday and a man in his 40s on Friday. Both were from Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, the three Winnipeg cases announced the previous weekend were linked to an earlier known case of COVID-19 involving a truck driver.

Two other travel-related cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba announced earlier this month were truck drivers with routes in the U.S.

Federal NDP health critic Don Davies has called for more data to be collected on the spread of the illness within Canada’s trucking industry.

Roussin noted the affected drivers in Manitoba have been following recommendations and self-isolating. As a result, public health officials in the province haven’t had to announce possible exposures to the public related to any truck drivers who tested positive for COVID-19.

“They’re professionals. They’re taking extra cautions, and we’re not seeing a number of contacts related to these cases,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to see cases. We’re going to continue to see cases in truckers. But we have to ensure that we’re acting in kindness to others.”

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