delivery drivers ontario law

Ontario restaurants could soon be forced to let food delivery drivers use their washrooms

When you're a food delivery driver working the busy streets of Toronto, restaurants are pretty much the only option when nature calls.

Imagine walking into a restaurant to pick up a delivery order, already in "it's an emergency" mode, only to be denied use of the washrooms because you are technically not a customer.

It happens all too often, frequently enough to garner the attention of the provincial government, which is now considering a law that would open up washrooms in pickup and delivery locations to delivery drivers across Ontario.

The new legislation being discussed — which would be the first of its kind in North America — would apply to not just the food delivery drivers shuttling meals to sweatpants-wearing remote workers across the province, but also to transport drivers, couriers, and Canada Post delivery workers.

Combined, this represents some 203,700 workers, who sometimes really have to go just like the rest of us.

Being tabled by Ontario labour minister Monte McNaughton, the law proposes that businesses be required to allow drivers to use their washrooms if picking up or dropping off an item.

"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," said Minister McNaughton.

"Workers who deliver and pick up goods have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, ensuring that essential supplies continue to reach the people of Ontario. Providing these hardworking men and women with access to washrooms is a small change that will make a big difference, so they can do their jobs with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The law would reportedly exclude private residences, so don't worry, you won't have to let some random Uber Eats driver inside your home.

If passed, the legislation would allow the Ministry of Labour to impose fines for businesses that fail to comply.

Regarding businesses where this law might not be practical, such as restaurants that only have washrooms for staff in areas off-limits to customers, McNaughton told CityNews: "They're going to have to figure it out."

It's not the type of legislation you'd think would be top of mind for politicians, but lockdowns have put immense strain on small businesses and supply chains. Delivery industries are among the few that have surged through the pandemic.

According to Statista, the Canadian online food delivery market alone has raked in $7,625,409,300 in 2021, more than double 2019's figure.

And this industry is only growing; online food sales are expected to reach a staggering $13,140,164,400 in 2025. That means in four years from now, every Canadian would be spending an average of $344.25 on food delivery annually.

It also means a whole lot more drivers on the road.

Some restaurants are already well ahead of the planned legislation, like Hotmess Tex Mex on College Street, which has been offering water and use of their washroom to all drivers for months.

Food delivery drivers have it comparatively easy in the eyes of truck drivers, who have to travel on long-haul trips where access to a washroom on the go is even more crucial.

The Ontario Trucking Association is welcoming the news, its President and CEO, Stephen Laskowski, thanking Minister McNaughton, "for recognizing our drivers as the true heroes they are and encouraging everyone in the supply chain to do their part in treating drivers with respect."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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