Return to Newsroom

National Trucking Week - Drivers On The Front Line


September 6-12, 2020 is National Trucking Week and we’re taking time to recognize the important contributions made by more than 400,000 Canadian men and women who keep freight moving. 




COVID-19 has impacted our lives and livelihoods in unprecedented ways. Across our nation, we have isolated to protect ourselves and others from infection as essential workers – front-line medical staff, and others – continued to operate. Now, as we see a gradual shift to re-open businesses and borders, we’re reflecting on one group that not only remained at work but was required to travel and were on the front lines of the outbreak. 

Truck drivers stayed on the roads safely - crossing provincial and international borders to keep shelves stocked and supply chains open. 

Across our operations, we employ over 1,500 professional drivers and owner-operators. Explore how drivers in various sectors – transportation, construction, retail, and wood products – adapted to the new normal… 

RST Sunbury

Based in Saint John, NB, RST Sunbury trucks log over 44 million miles each year, and Sunbury is on-track to set a record for the most annual miles in company history. The global pandemic may have changed how the company operates on a daily basis, but not its winning culture and team spirit.  

“Driver safety was our top priority and we took every possible precaution,” says Andrew Fisher, General Manager of RST Sunbury, which operates in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, and the Eastern United States. “Drivers took measures to minimize the spread of illness, from sanitizing their workspaces and cabs, to minimizing close contact and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).”

 RST SUN Driver


“There has been no shortage of PPE, or communication between the company and our drivers,” says Fisher. “Open lines of communication are critical to ensuring we keep our people, customers and communities safe.” 

A Culture of Care

RST Sunbury is quick to recognize professionalism, flexibility, and resilience its team. On and off the road, employees have always demonstrated strong values and drive.

“Prior to the pandemic everyone was working hard trying to make 2020 another successful year for our customers and our team,” says Chris Haines, Director of Operations for RST. “The pandemic surprised us all and quickly complicated everyone’s lives. Our drivers faced these challenges with patience, grit, and unwavering professionalism.” 

But it goes further than just professionalism, says Fisher: 

“We have a culture of care within RST Sunbury. We’re checking in with drivers and asking how they’re doing. The last number of months have demonstrated how important kindness and staying in touch are - especially to those working along. When we have a culture of trust, it leads to better service and better business.”

In August, the company launched its “Driving Kindness” campaign, a new take on its annual Driver Appreciation celebrations. 

“While we can't get together to celebrate in the same ways as previous years, we are so excited about Driving Kindness,” explains Stacey Miller, Director of Human Resources with RST Sunbury. “There were so many along the road who supported and helped drivers. All of our drivers recently received a package asking them to nominate the organizations, groups and communities that stepped up to support truckers and the trucking industry through the COVID-19 shutdown. Nominations will be reviewed by a committee for a number of awards, and our drivers will take the lead in alerting the winning groups and delivering the prizes.”

 Sunbury Driver


These have been unprecedented times, and more than ever, Canadians recognize how important truck drivers are to preserving our way of life. RST Sunbury thanks drivers and all supporting staff for keeping our supply chains open, and for continuing to Drive Kindness!

Kent Homes 

Drivers working with Kent Homes are responsible for moving Kent Mobile Shelters to job sites across the Maritime Provinces. 

 Kent Commercial


COVID-19 increased the need for Kent Homes’ products in large measure because of the need for more space and isolating work teams. Ensuring the company’s drivers worked with customers in a safe, professional manager was essential, and customers were incredibly thankful to receive units on time. 

Joseph Saulnier and Michael Leblanc are professional driver for the company. In 2019, both logged over 75,000 miles, and its likely they’ll surpass that distance in 2020. 

“Joey and Mike are accommodating, professional, and always go above and beyond,” says Kent Homes Fleet Director, Peter Kinney. “We typically get several calls a year, thanking our drivers for stopping on the side of the road to help someone change a tire. They’re not looking for the limelight. They’re good, solid people who deliver.”

Customer Service

Like most businesses operating through COVID-19, Kent Homes had to adapt quickly to changing regulations and customer expectations. And the company saw a change in how its drivers were perceived as front-line workers: 

“As a company we have recognized that these guys are on the front lines when it comes to customer interaction,” says Kent Homes Fleet Manager, Lewis Harris. “We’ve worked hard to ensure our truckers are safe and supported, giving them all the PPE they need in light of COVID-19 and taking their feedback on changes in process or additional equipment to keep them safer during the deliveries, no questions asked.”

“We’ve noticed it just really made our customers more appreciative,” adds Kinney. “Our business has increased, and our team is still getting units to their customers on time, and as required. The customers just seem to appreciate more how many hoops and details it takes to get a unit delivered on time and properly to keep their business operating.”

Midland Transport

With over 1,200 professional drivers, owner operators and agency drivers spread across its Courier, Transport and Highway operations, Midland Transport specializes in moving tissue products, medical supplies, groceries, building supplies and clothing. In 2020 alone, drivers have logged more than 26 million miles. 

The company is no stranger to industry excellence, having received Top Fleet Employer Awards (Trucking HR Canada) for five consecutive years and receiving the 2019 Employer of Choice Award (Trucking Human Resources Sector Council Atlantic), among many other recognitions.

Supporting Our Communities

As COVID-19 led to shutdowns across the Country, Midland Transport saw an outpouring of support for drivers from local businesses and communities.

A local Tim Hortons delivered coffee to drivers and staff at Midland’s Moncton terminal. Owners of Antonio’s Pizza in Medicine Hat, AB delivered fresh pizza to Midland driver, Normand Richard.

 Antonio's Pizza


 “As we deal with the obstacles brought about by the pandemic, we continue to see the view of our industry change,” says Rod Hudson, Director of Driver and Owner Operator Relations with Midland. “The public has become a lot more aware of the fact that medical supplies, groceries, and all other essential products would not be available without professional drivers. It’s encouraging to see truckers’ tireless work being recognized by the general public, media, and communities during these unprecedented times.”

And Midland has made an outstanding effort to give back to the communities affected by the pandemic, donating to the following organizations in 2020 alone: 

  • Food Depot Alimentaire, Dieppe NB
  • Food Depot Alimentaire, Saint John NB
  • Salvation Army, Summerside PEI
  • Upper Room Hospitality Ministry, PEI
  • Plentiful Harvest, Wheatly ON
  • Learning Enrichment Foundation LEF, Toronto ON
  • North York Harvest Food Bank, Toronto ON
  • Tri County United Way, New York 
  • Middle Georgia Food Bank, Georgia
  • Lethbridge Foodbank, Lethbridge ON
  • Interfaith Foodbank, Lethbridge ON
  • Feed Nova Scotia, NS
  • Moisson Montréal, QC
  • Fort Edward Union Free School, New York
  • Early Childhood Family Resource Centre of Westmorland, Moncton NB
  • Food For Life, Toronto ON
  • MADA Community Center, Montreal QC
  • David Ortiz, Boston
  • United Way Upstate NY
  • NH Foodbank
  • Greater Boston Foodbank
  • Worcester Foodbank
  • Western Mass Foodbank
  • Vibrant Communities Charlotte County, NB
  • Salvation Army Foodbank, PEI
  • Hospitals in PEI

Woodlands Division

With a fleet comprised of 400+ drivers on 300 trucks, all owned by independent contractors, Irving Woodlands division logged 17.6 million miles in 2019. The Woodlands fleet specializes in moving logs for sawmills, pulp wood for chip plants, wood chips and hogfuel for pulp and paper mills. 

 Harvester Truck


Supporting Small Business

Many Woodlands contractors saw a marked change in how their operations and drivers were perceived following COVID-19.  

“We had two amazing ladies set up a table at the Four Corners gas station everyday giving our drivers food and snacks, and also the Irving truck stops were giving free breakfast to all our drivers,” writes John Walsh, of John Walsh Trucking. “It means a lot and gives drivers a real boost.”

 Woodlands Driver


“After the initial fear of the unknown was followed by a quick and effective response by the government, plus a few hours on the web researching the do's, and don'ts of COVID-19,” writes Jeff Barr, Trucking Contractor. “I'm not too worried about it and I think a lot of other drivers feel the same. I also think JDI did a great job responding to make the mills and other locations as safe as possible.”

Drivers for Woodlands kept mills running through the spring COVID-19 shutdowns, enabling the production of paper products, tissue, building materials diapers and other essential goods for markets across Canada and worldwide. 

“I am very proud of how fast and focused JDI acted to ensure the safety of our contractors and their drivers around implementing COVID protocols, says Cam Rust, Divisional Transportation Manager, J.D. Irving, Limited Woodlands Division. “What was even more impressive was how engaged staff, contractors and their professional drivers responded to implement the safety protocols while rising to the challenge of keeping the mills running.”  

Kent Building Supplies

With approximately 240 drivers moving various building supplies more than 2.5 million miles year-to-date, the Atlantic Canadian home improvement saw COVID-19 shape the perception of its drivers too.

“Drivers instantly became heroes, keeping our customers connect with the things that were still important in their lives and keeping the construction materials moving,” says Kevin Kuniski, Manager at the KENT Metro Operations Centre.



Universal Truck and Trailer

In the current COVID-19 environment, transport trucks and drivers are vital to keeping shelves stocked and supply chains open. Behind the scenes, there’s another group of essential workers: the teams and technicians who maintain the trucks and keep them running.

A heavy-duty truck retailer, parts and service provider, Universal Truck and Trailer remained open and active through the COVID-19 shutdown – in both Saint John and Dieppe, NB. Significant effort and oversight went into measures to keep employees and customers safe and healthy.

Since January 2020, technicians have repaired over 9,000 trucks and trailers, averaging 44 repairs per day. 

 UTT Shop Floor


“There has never been a bigger need for tradespeople and apprentices, not just in the trucking industry, but in all trades,” says Danny LeBlanc, Operations Manager. “Our Truck and Transport service technicians have a variety of backgrounds – some learned primarily in classrooms, others in backyards and one is no better than the other. They really are among the best in the business.”

 UTT worker



More than ever, the Transportation Industry is being recognized and supported as an essential service. In these challenging times, we thank all essential workers in every sector for the work they do on the front lines. 

Happy National Trucking Week!