Manitoba's top doctor warned about stigmatizing groups of people after his office received reports that truckers had been denied medical appointments, including for a flu shot.
Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday he was disappointed to hear that people had been denied medical care because of their line of work.
"We can’t accept this. We know this virus will be here for the foreseeable future, so we can’t deny care to people based on their occupation."
Those denied care often provide tremendous service to the public, he said, pointing to truckers, who are essential to getting goods to consumers and keeping the economy moving.
"Please think about how we can work together through this, and do whatever we can not to stigmatize groups," Roussin said.
Manitoba Trucking Association executive director Terry Shaw said drivers who are non-symptomatic are being turned away and told to isolate for 14 days prior to asking for health-care services because they have been out of the province. First responders, people who work in personal care homes and hospitals encounter greater COVID-19 risks, but aren’t denied the same services as truck drivers, he said.
Earlier in the pandemic, truckers complained they had been denied service at restaurants because people were afraid to serve them.
"The concern recently is that these aren’t frivolous denials. This isn’t someone being refused a sandwich or a cup of coffee, it’s somebody being denied a health-care service," said Shaw.
There have have been four to six calls in the last three weeks from drivers who were denied health care, he said.
"The only thing that truck drivers are asking in return is being able to access the same health care that every Manitoban is when they get home," said Shaw.
"Manitobans are being told to stay home and stay safe. The reason Manitobans are able to stay home and stay safe comfortably with fresh produce, food, PPE, and all the goods they need to stay home safely and comfortably is because Manitoba truck drivers are not," said Shaw.