Ontario DriveTest instructor questions safety amid coronavirus pandemic

A DriveTest employee in Peterborough, Ont. says she’s concerned about the safety of employees and clients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The woman – who asked that her name not be revealed – says DriveTest employees are conducting an average of 20 tests a day for individuals wanting to obtain their G or G2 driver’s licence.

She claims her union USW 9511 and Serco Canada – which is employed by the Ministry of Transportation – to provide the tests has been working to have operations put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“But the MTO senior staff has refused to comment nor answer questions to anyone that has tried to come into contact with them,” she says.

She says continuing to administer the driving tests puts herself and fellow co-workers at risk. Employees have been asked to inquire with applicants if they have recently travelled out of the country, the woman claims.

“Why is it okay for us to continue to get into strangers vehicles and potentially take this home to our loved ones?

“Why are we still being put at risk by the same government that’s also asking for social distancing? We are unable to maintain the 2m/6ft of social distancing when on a road test with applicants for 25-plus minutes.”

In a letter to employees obtained by Global News, Serco president David Dacquino says the company has issued “multiple” letters and requests to the MTO to direct them to close DriveTest Centres.

“All of our efforts have failed and a week after many pleas, we have received no formal response to the majority of our letters and we have not been able to secure a single phone call with senior members of MTO or the Provincial government,” he wrote.

“While we understand the pressures and demands that the government faces in the midst of this crisis, we remain disappointed that they have not given Serco direction to close the centres. Serco is providing a government service and until the MTO tells us otherwise, we must remain open.”

Dacquino said while operations remain open, no employee will be “forced” to perform tasks or duties they deem unsafe and no employee will face reprisal if they decide to remain home and not report for work.

“In these situations, Serco will grant to employees the right to use accrued vacation time, accrued sick time, or to request a Leave of Absence,” he said. “All Leave of Absence requests will be granted.”

The woman says she simply does not feel safe at work but are being mandated to continue to work by the province.

“A lot of us have young children at home and parents with compromised immune systems,” she said. “We need to protect our families along with our community through this difficult time.”

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