New safety guidance for commercial vehicle operations during COVID-19

April 6, 2020 | Louis Amato-Gauci, Jaclyne Reive

Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada have collaborated to produce safety guidance for the further protection of drivers and employees working in commercial vehicle operations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The document is available for download via the Transport Canada website in English and French.

While specific requirements will vary from one company to another, these guidelines should be considered minimum benchmarks.  We recommend full compliance by all motor carriers, for several reasons:

(1) Employers have occupational health and safety obligations toward their workers. These obligations arise under the Canada Labour Code in the case of extra-provincial motor carriers, or under provincial legislation in the case of motor carriers that operate solely within the boundaries of one province or territory.

(2) Motor carriers and logistics companies may find that they need to modify the manner in which they perform certain obligations under third-party logistics agreements or contracts of carriage, due to the physical distancing and enhanced hygiene requirements imposed in response to COVID-19.  These guidelines may assist in their discussions with shippers and consignees to help explain these operational changes, and to underscore the shared objective of keeping the client’s cargo moving, while protecting the health of all personnel.

(3) Compliance with these guidelines may also help reassure truck drivers and other staff members that their employer is taking all commercially reasonable steps to keep them and their families safe.  This is of critical importance, given the chronic shortage and high turnover of truck drivers in this country, the industry’s aging workforce, and the challenges that drivers are currently facing due to the closure of many truck stops in response to COVID-19.

(4)  Guidance of this nature is quite likely to become the standard of care for the industry, especially because it has been promulgated jointly by several federal government departments. We expect that their recommendations for protecting trucking personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic will serve as a benchmark against which Canadian motor carriers will be measured in the event of a claim for damages.

Should you have any questions about the guidance or its implementation, please feel free to contact any member of Miller Thomson LLP’s Transportation and Logistics team.


Miller Thomson is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation to ensure that we provide our clients with appropriate support in this rapidly changing environment. For articles, information updates and firm developments, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page.


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