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'You always worry:' Toronto rideshare driver feels left behind in pandemic response

The Uber logo is seen in front of protesting taxi drivers at the courthouse in Montreal, Feb. 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

As the third wave of COVID-19 surges, some frontline workers say they are feeling left behind.

Toronto rideshare driver “Sunny” – not his real name – says interacting with the public every day has left him feeling a bit on the edge.

“It’s the worst, it’s like – at the end of the day, you always worry. You can’t sleep, you have PTSD,” he tells 680 NEWS.

“You don’t have a plexiglass that separates, and you are trying to take all the precautions, open the window.”

Sunny says he was tested for COVID-19 once before at his local pharmacy but when he tried to book an appointment this time around, he was told he was not eligible and had to head to a local hospital to be tested instead.

680 NEWS reached out to the parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart who said in a statement they are following the government’s criteria when it comes to asymptomatic testing, which does not include taxi and/or rideshare drivers.

“We can certainly understand how frustrating this can be, but our pharmacies are required to follow provincial guidelines. We do apologize for any confusion,” read the statement.

Pharmacies are allowed to conduct testing for other frontline workers who are asymptomatic, such as teachers and long term care workers.

Sunny says he was tested at the hospital once before, but it’s a place that makes him more anxious, and a process that is more time consuming.

“I waited for like 4 hours (back) in August – in the sun, the blazing sun,” he says.

“The reality is there are people that are working, risking their lives every day. At this point we are in the third wave, a positivity rate of eight per cent – it does not make any sense that they can refuse any group of people.”

Sunny says since he is not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine shot he wants to avoid bringing the virus home to his family, adding he lives with someone who is immunocompromised. He adds if he did get sick, he would not be able to afford to take time off work.