The manager of Toronto’s largest taxi company is thinking of suspending service to places with high risk of exposure to COVID-19 to protect drivers.
Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi, told Daily Hive via email Tuesday that the company is considering withdrawing service to COVID-19 testing centres and isolation centres.
“It would impact any individual from any neighbourhood who is travelling to or from a testing centre because the risk is too high for taxi drivers,” Hubbard said.
She believes it’s unfair that drivers have to interact with suspected COVID-19 patients without access to vaccines, sick pay, or medical-grade protective equipment.
“Once they’ve done the work, some [drivers] are being told to quarantine without any support for having done the work and no support for the time off,” Hubbard said.
She added some hospitals will call a taxi to pick up a COVID-19-positive person, and the driver will later receive a call from Toronto Public Health saying they need to stay home for two weeks.
“This isn’t their job,” Hubbard said in a tweet Friday.
Considering withdrawing service to specific high risk locations to protect taxi drivers. Drivers not prioritized for the vaccine. Hospitals calling to have them pick up COVID+ people just to have TPH tell them they have to stay home for 2 weeks right after. This isn’t their job.
— Kristine Hubbard (@KristineHubbard) April 10, 2021
The measure would be temporary until drivers are vaccinated.
Hubbard is pushing for taxi drivers to be moved up the list since the service they provide is essential. Right now they’re eligible for a vaccine in Phase 2 along with other essential workers, but no plans focusing on drivers have been revealed.
Right now Toronto residents age 50 and up living in select hotspot postal code are eligible for their vaccine. The City of Toronto is also setting up mobile vaccination clinics in hotspots to vaccinate anyone over 18, but the schedule for those has not yet been released.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the company is considering withdrawing service from hotspot neighbourhoods. In fact, the company is only considering stopping service to COVID-19 testing and isolation centres.