A delivery woman with intestinal illness inspired the launch of a petition to convince traders to keep their washrooms accessible to customers during these times of lockdown.
“It’s humiliating […] Going to the bathroom is not a whim, “says Marie-Ève Dubuc, 40 years old.
The subject is delicate, but she is ready to break the taboo: she is awaiting a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. She often has sudden fits and forces him to go to the bathroom urgently.
She makes deliveries for Doordash for short periods. He sometimes has to travel from the Mauricie to the Outaouais for an appointment with an orthopedist.
Her life has therefore become more complicated since the pandemic, with many businesses having reduced or closed access to their bathrooms. The Journal has also toured the major banners to find out their policy on the subject (see other text).
“I can no longer go to places where they refuse to accommodate me […] I have to plan my trips around that. ”
“We are in the process of taking away some of our dignity,” said Julie Houle-Serwantynski. She was the one who launched the petition a week ago, shocked by the situation Marie-Ève Dubuc is going through. Nearly 400 people signed it on Friday.
Denied to a girl
This is the case of Valérie Gravel Dubois, a resident of Mascouche who says she was denied access to a Tim Hortons bathroom for her 4-year-old daughter last November.
She was picking up her injured partner from the Saint-Jérôme hospital and had just taken the car order when the girl had an urgent urge to pee. She finally had to defecate outside.
“She was crying,” her mother said. “She didn’t understand why she was being denied this.”
For many workers who have to spend their day in their vehicle, the problem is everyday.
“The worst story I have heard is a truck driver who defected at the door of a cafe because he was no longer able to hold back”, illustrates Stéphane Lavoie, regional director at the ‘Association of Professional Truck Drivers of Quebec.
“For a man it’s less worse [parce qu’il peut uriner dehors]He said. “But there are more and more women driving trucks.”
In general, businesses try to keep their washrooms open, says Jean-François Belleau of the Retail Council of Canada. The catch is that the employees sometimes are the same as the public.
“It can’t be mixed. The CNESST asks employers to protect their employees, ”explains Mr. Belleau.
For its part, the Ministry of Transport explains that it cannot force private businesses to allow road users access to their toilets.
Fortunately, the service areas and rest areas managed by the MTQ are still accessible and the maintenance frequency has been increased, congratulates Marc Cadieux, president of the Association du camionnage du Québec.
Still, for Stéphane Lavoie, these stops are not numerous enough to meet demand and cover the territory. Their absence is particularly problematic in large cities, underlines Mr. Lavoie.
Where can we still go to the bathroom?
Finding a washroom that is open to the public can sometimes be a game of chance these days as access varies greatly from branch to branch, even at some large chains.
Tim Hortons restaurants continue to allow their patrons to use washrooms in order-to-go places, the media relations team said. A “guest” who is refused can call 1-888-601-1616 to have Tim Hortons review the situation.
If the dining room is closed, the washrooms are closed to customers, except for emergency responders in uniform.
Costco and Walmart
In supermarkets such as Costco and Walmart, the toilets dedicated to the public are always open, assures Jean-François Belleau of the Retail Council of Canada.
At IGA, toilets are always accessible in the majority of supermarkets, indicates Anne-Hélène Lavoie, spokesperson for Sobeys.
In general, large grocery stores have kept their toilets open, explains Mr. Belleau. They are more likely to be closed in neighborhood grocery stores or when there is only one bathroom.
The situation varies from one branch to another, in particular because stations of the same banner can be managed by different operators.
The service areas managed by Transports Québec and rest areas open year-round are always accessible. Their list exists on Quebec 511.
At the time of publication, McDonald’s, Metro and Couche-Tard had not responded to questions from Newspaper.
To consult the petition: https://www.petitionenligne.net/signatures/toilettes_accessibles_au_quebec_durant_la_pandemie/