The Covid pandemic which began in 2020 produced many heroes – especially the courageous front-line workers in our health institutions who risked their lives to keep all of us safe. We stand and salute all of them, and express our profound gratitude for their sacrifice and hard work.
But there is another group of modern-day heroes who deserve much more recognition and praise than they have received. I’m talking about the thousands of gig drivers all across Canada who kept multitudes of people moving, and provided food to millions of homes & workplaces, in spite of the very real dangers and obstacles presented by the pandemic.
GIG DRIVERS OF CANADA: WE ARE PANDEMIC HEROES!
As we all know, the pandemic had significant impact upon drivers with Uber Rideshare, Uber Eats, Cornershop, Lyft, DoorDash, Skip the Dishes and Instacart. Initially, there was extreme concern about the spread of the virus among drivers, passengers, restaurant staff, store staff and customers. The number of gig customers dramatically dropped. Many drivers played it safe and stayed home. And for those who courageously continued driving, income initially went way down.
The world was now very different: Masks were mandatory everywhere. Hand sanitizer was applied 100 times a day. Social distancing became an absolute must. Outdoor lineups were more common. Entry to offices & high-rise buildings became even more difficult. However, the gig drivers still on the road took precautions, stayed safe, and continued making money. Uber and Lyft helped protect drivers & passengers by introducing new requirements: Passengers (3 maximum) were only allowed to sit in the back seat. No more pooled rides (sharing rides with strangers). Everybody had to wear masks. And drivers were instructed to constantly air out the car and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant.
But with so many people across Canada now staying home (including millions who began working remotely), suddenly there was a massive surge in online grocery delivery and ordering meals. Restaurants scrambled to switch to delivery mode and join gig platforms. Pings for meal delivery drivers increased dramatically. For those who courageously stayed on the road throughout this time, it was a bonanza. Business also boomed for the grocery delivery gigs. Drivers who were sitting on the sidelines cautiously returned to get in on the action – including many who switched over from rideshare. As time went by, when everybody adjusted to the new realities, more passengers & drivers resumed rideshare – and currently, there are almost as many passengers as before the pandemic. It has been an interesting 2 years!
We stand at attention, bow our heads and quietly remember gig drivers who, despite their best efforts, caught the virus. Some are no longer with us; others are still on the long road to recovery. Gig driving in a pandemic can be a dangerous business. Along with the frontline workers in health institutions, we gig drivers risked our lives to serve fellow-Canadians.
Let the whole world recognize that Canadian gig drivers were and are PANDEMIC HEROES: Courageously helping frontline workers and essential staff keep moving; ferrying people to vaccination clinics; tirelessly delivering food to multitudes of people in lockdown; courageously delivering meals to millions working remotely or in quarantine. In cities & communities all across our great nation, we gig drivers have served and continue serving. People may not fully recognize the strategic role we have played. That is not important. We did what was right for our country and our families. We are proud of our contribution.