dealership toronto

Car dealerships are still open in Toronto but staff question why they're an essential workplace

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, car dealerships are still open even though business has come to a grinding halt. 

"Nobody is coming in to buy a car but we're still told to go into work," a sales associate from a Thornhill dealership told blogTO. 

"The greed of the auto industry is outweighing the health and well-being of their being of their employees," said an employee of Mercedes. 

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford said car dealerships were an "essential workplace". 

Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that they weren't essential.

Despite conflicting orders most car dealerships in the GTA have remained open for business, which many employees say is alarming considering the health and safety concerns are significant.

"We're in cars with people, people are in showroom cars, they touch our pens ... It's a crazy amount of exposure," the Thornhill sales associate said. 

While their specific dealership did provide masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes for their work stations, along with an info graphic on proper mask use, it was pretty much business as usual. 

The other major issue is salary. As the Thornhill sale associate explains most car sales people are paid by commission and they only get paid once the car gets delivered. 

If you don't deliver any cars they pay you with something called a "draw". A draw is essentially an interest free loan that gives the employee a minimum wage salary until they do deliver a car. 

"If they laid us off we would have been getting EI and would have been safer," they told blogTO. 

Yesterday, the Thornhill dealership gave them the option to be laid off, an option the sales associate took willingly. 

But not all dealership employees have been given that option.

"A friend of mine works for luxury German brand. The manager told them 'if we sell one car through this whole thing it's worth being open'," the Thornhill sale associate said. 

"It's not worth it to expose all your staff to this."

Some dealerships have implemented reduced hours, restricted test drives, offered telephone counselling services and financial help with phone bills.

Other dealerships have given the option to work from home but pay is still an issue due to the commission payment system. 

"I hope the dealers start to understand that this is serious and do something about," said a Burlington dealership employee. 

Lead photo by

Mercedes downtown


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