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Some Manitoba Truckers Being Denied Essential Services: Atwal

February 3, 2021 2:00 PM | News

Semi Trucks

Dr. Jazz Atwal

Dr. Jazz Atwal, left, acting deputy Manitoba chief public health officer, looks on as Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, speaks at the province’s latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg Wednesday, December 16, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

WINNIPEG — Some Manitoba truck drivers are facing discrimination and being denied essential services, according to the province’s acting deputy chief provincial public health officer.

Dr. Jazz Atwal said Wednesday his department has been made aware of some instances where truck drivers are unable to access washroom facilities out of fear they are carrying COVID-19.

“This is disappointing to hear,” Atwal said. “We rely on this industry to provide the goods and services we use every day… and we likely take these services for granted. They (truckers) offer a vital service and for them to be treated like this is unacceptable.

“To the businesses that are turning truckers away: I ask you to open your doors and make these facilities available. We are friendly Manitoba for a reason and I ask you to show the friendliness towards these essential workers. Let’s show humanity to people.”

Truck drivers were among a group of people being denied some services earlier on in the pandemic, such as access to washrooms or being able to schedule dental or doctor visits. Some in Manitoba’s Hutterite community faced similar discrimination after a spike in COVID-19 cases in communal living settings in the province.

At that time, Manitoba health officials echoed a similar statement to Dr. Atwal’s, encouraging businesses to welcome all groups of customers to their facilities.