By: Wendell Erb
It has been another challenging year for all Ontarians, particularly for the men and women who have kept our country moving throughout the pandemic – from office workers to warehouse workers and, of course, our truck drivers. As Chairperson of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), I would like to thank all those employed in our sector for taking on the challenge of moving freight in this unpredictable environment. We have shown all Ontarians what a proud and dedicated workforce we are.
Prior to COVID-19, we might have been an invisible workforce to some people. However, through our efforts, we are more front and center in the public eye, in the media and at all levels of government. Ontarians who have always expected store shelves to be stocked and critical supplies readily available have now come to realize that these items do not magically appear. It is clear now there is a much better understanding and appreciation of how the supply chain works and what it takes to ensure Ontarians have access to the goods they need. This is a great accomplishment.
And while the public was learning about what makes us so essential, I believe we also learned a lot about ourselves. Throughout this pandemic, which is still ongoing, our employees have faced many new challenges. All businesses in our sector worked with staff to respect and manage family, health and operational challenges that had never been seen at this scale before. And despite all these new challenges, we were still able to pull together and continue to move our nation’s economy with nominal interruption. This was not an easy task – and still isn’t – but I believe our sector will emerge from this crisis even stronger and with a greater sense of purpose. We should be proud of what we have achieved throughout this crisis, both internally and externally, all of which would not have been possible without a talented and driven workforce.
As we honour the achievements of our industry this week, I believe it is also important to recognize that all levels of government have aided our efforts throughout this crisis. The response has been amazing. As Chair of the OTA, I do most of my work at the provincial level with the Government of Ontario. As such, I would like to applaud Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney, who have been consummate champions for the industry and have worked tirelessly to improve living and working conditions for our drivers and other workers. Both Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney have stood by us through very challenging times. On behalf of all our members, I thank you.
As we look forward to the closing months of 2021, I know there will continue to be challenges that will test our sector – whether related to COVID-19 or not. Nonetheless, if the past year has taught us anything it is that we must continue face these challenges together with the kind of dedication our industry exemplifies. As OTA Chair I will also continue to push for greater industry recognition and to work with the Government of Ontario to ensure the trucking industry continues to make strides when on compliance and safety.
On behalf of myself and the OTA, I want to wish you all a happy National Trucking Week.