Beck Taxi calls on Ontario government to prioritize cab drivers for COVID-19 vaccination

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Beck Taxi is urging the province to immediately prioritize cab drivers for COVID-19 vaccination, noting that they are among the few essential workers who are expected to interact with known positive COVID-19 cases.

Speaking to CP24 on Monday morning, Kristine Hubbard, the operations manager for Beck Taxi, said she is constantly getting calls from drivers inquiring about when they will be eligible for a vaccine.

“This is a situation where our province and our city are telling people, ‘Don't take public transit if you are sick. Take a taxi.’ And so these are the people who are escorting our most vulnerable members of our community door-to-door,” she said.

While essential workers aren’t expected to be prioritized for vaccination in the province until mid-May, the Ontario government has said it hopes many essential workers will be vaccinated as it works to inoculate all adult residents in the province’s COVID-19 hot spot postal codes in the coming weeks.

Many have raised concerns about that strategy, noting that not all frontline employees live in the hot spots where they work.

Hubbard said taxi drivers at her company are expected to visit many different areas over the course of their day, including hot spot addresses.

“By hot spots, we're talking about COVID testing centres, isolation centres, and anyone who would be travelling to and from those locations. So it is not necessarily postal codes,” she added.

“We are working with about 1,200 taxi drivers who are the only essential workers who are expected to interact with known COVID positive or COVID probable cases unlike any others.”

She added that cab drivers also transported vulnerable members of the community, including cancer patients and elderly residents.

In addition to vaccinating those aged 18 and older in hot spot communities, the Ford government has promised to use mobile teams and pop-up clinics to take the vaccine into hot spot workplaces, including large companies in the manufacturing sector.

Hubbard said she has reached out to the province about Beck Taxi hosting a vaccination clinic on site to inoculate cab drivers.

“We've offered already, through the deputy minister's office, to host a mobile vaccination site in our large parking lot,” she said.

“Drivers are asking me on a regular basis about when they will qualify to get the vaccine.”