Sask. trucker says he can't access certain health-care services because he crosses the border

·4 min read
Truckers like Swift Current's Christopher Worsley must cross into the U.S. to do their job. (Jesse Winter/Reuters - image credit)
Truckers like Swift Current's Christopher Worsley must cross into the U.S. to do their job. (Jesse Winter/Reuters - image credit)

Christopher Worsley was packing up all his gear Wednesday morning in preparation to haul a load of peas down to Topeka, Kansas. The last trip down was rough, as he had to navigate through a couple of blizzards.

What's been even tougher for him has been getting in to see a dentist, or a chiropractor or getting his hearing checked.

"I was almost denied service at a hospital for routine tests because I was a truck driver," said Worsley, an owner-operator truck driver who lives in Swift Current and crosses the border every week.

"They had to have a meeting … I was isolated, which is understandable in this COVID world, we have to be careful. But the stigma of, you know, being to a different country is a little too much when we know as truck drivers just how safe we have to be, because it's our health and our family's health that we're looking at as well."

Christopher Worsley is a long haul trucker who goes back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border.
Christopher Worsley is a long haul trucker who goes back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border.

Worsley said there has to be certain exceptions to the international travel rule that allow people like him that have to cross the border to still be able to access health-care services.

He said he's more than willing to take extra precautionary steps like being isolated in a room implementing extra sanitation processes before and after he enters a facility.

Worsley said he takes far more precautions than the people he sees at the local grocery or department stores.

"Whether it be in Canada or the States I always take Lysol to the fuel pumps. I wait three or five minutes for it to work effectively and I wear gloves, even after I use the Lysol," he said.

"I don't go into restaurants in the States just because there's a lot more relaxed rules in the states I go to. I pack meals that I take with me every week and just eat out of a microwave for a week because it's the safest way to do it."

He said the only time he goes into a truck stop is to shower and he brings a spray bottle filled with diluted bleach to spray everything down.

Christopher Worsley says he sanitizes everything, including his truck, each time he returns from the U.S.
Christopher Worsley says he sanitizes everything, including his truck, each time he returns from the U.S.

Worsley's main terminal is in Calgary, so when he comes back from the U.S. he takes a rapid COVID test — about $275 each time — that he pays out of pocket for.

"We get results in about 20 minutes, but it's a peace of mind thing, especially for my son who has asthma. It's worth every penny."

When he gets back to Swift Current, Worsley throws all his clothes in the washer, showers, then sanitizes his truck, personal vehicle and anything else he has touched before going to pick up his three-year-old son.

His girlfriend works in a long-term care facility.

"So we're extra cautious when it comes with that. She had to clear dating me with her bosses and I had to talk to them concerning my sanitization processes of my truck and of myself and my home, which is completely understandable," he said.

"But in this COVID-filled world, you know, romances are still going to bloom and there needs to be some onus and some responsibility on people. We don't need our hands held 24/7."

On Thursday Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said those working as truckers and in other jobs where they travel should not be denied service based on checklists certain businesses or services have.

Worsley said he also is using the the ArriveCan app, which lets you input mandatory travel information during and after your entry into Canada because of federal government regulations.

"So they're really they're stepping up tracking us, which I'm not a huge fan of because I believe I have certain inalienable rights and freedoms, but so do you for not getting sick," he said.

Susan Ewart, executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), said truckers who are crossing the Canada-U.S. border are being encouraged to download and use the ArriveCan App.

"This is not mandatory however," Ewart said in an email. "Drivers can use this app to continue to submit mandatory information when crossing the border. If drivers do not provide the information in advance using the app, carriers can verbally submit the information to a CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) official."

Ewart said the app is being used to make crossing the border more efficient.

She also said the STA is not aware of any drivers being denied services such as dentistry because they have crossed the border.