food delivery

Ontario wants to give food delivery drivers washroom access

The Ontario government has tabled unprecedented legislation that would allow food delivery workers and other couriers to access bathrooms at businesses where they are delivering or picking up items.

The legislation, if passed, would apply to couriers and truck drivers as well as food delivery workers.

“This is something most people in Ontario take for granted but access to washrooms is a matter of common decency currently being denied to hundreds of thousands of workers in this province,” Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, per CP24, McNaughton said that some businesses have failed to recognize delivery workers as “heroes” amid the pandemic and that drivers often have to plan their day around where they can get access to a bathroom.

“They stepped up when the demand for deliveries increased with more people shopping online when we couldn’t go into stores, and more families ordering food from their favourite restaurants when we couldn’t go out to eat. You should be treated as heroes for all that you do,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some businesses while trying to keep their operations running haven’t been treating you as heroes. Some failed to recognize that you were vital to their success. Instead, some put up signs that were shameful. ‘No washroom access,’ ‘no drivers beyond this point,’ ‘washrooms for team members only.’”

“You worked over the past 19 months to get through to our apartments, homes and places of work. You deserve to be treated better.”

McNaughton said the legislation would apply to more than 200,000 workers.

Officials say the proposed legislation will only apply to businesses where workers are picking up or delivering items, and is not applicable to private residences.

The measures came after government officials learned that delivery workers, including those who work for online platforms such as Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes, are often denied the use of washrooms at businesses.

Ontario would be the first Canadian province to pass such legislation, but the province may have taken inspiration from a major nearby jurisdiction.

Last month, the New York City Council approved a package of bills designed to strengthen protections for the city’s tens of thousands of food delivery workers. Included among those measures was the requirement that delivery companies include a provision in their contracts with restaurants that says restaurants must allow delivery workers to use their bathrooms, as long as the worker is there to pick up an order.

Reportedly, NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, one of the sponsors of those bills, had said he was shocked to learn that delivery workers often had nowhere to go to the bathroom while on the job, and even routinely resorted to urinating in Gatorade bottles.

The pandemic accelerated the use of delivery apps when dining rooms closed, with delivery being relied upon far more heavily than ever before. Delivery drivers have faced an increase in violence, carjackings and car thefts during the pandemic.

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