Saskatoon

Saskatoon RV dealer wants his business designated an essential service

RV systems like sanitation and heating can't be serviced at a regular garage or auto dealer, which have been listed as essential retail services by the Government of Saskatchewan.

With so many snowbirds returning to Canada due to COVID-19, some of them may be living in their RV

Daryl Kehoe, owner of Kehoe RV, says RV dealers should be considered an essential service in Saskatchewan, as many aspects of an RV can't be serviced at a regular auto garage. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC )

The owner of a Saskatoon-based RV dealer want his industry designated as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Automotive dealers, auto repair and autobody shops were all listed as essential retail services by the province in late March, but RV dealerships were not included. 

Daryl Kehoe, co-owner of Kehoe RV, said RV users may be left in the lurch for certain repairs if his business and others like it have to close down.

"A regular auto shop doesn't work on a furnace. They don't work on plumbing, while as an RV dealer, of course we do," Kehoe said. 

Kehoe said that while the shop isn't super busy at the moment, it is seeing a lot of orders for furnace parts required to heat an RV, as many folks have had to cut trips down south short. 

He said if one of these units were to break down, its users may be in trouble.

"Our RV techs are the only ones who really know how to fix an RV furnace," Kehoe said, noting while some operations of an RV may transfer over to a regular auto garage, many aspects could not. 

"You can't go into Walmart and get parts for your RV, you have to go to an RV dealer," he said.

Asked for an interview on the subject, the province provided a written statement.

"The Government of Saskatchewan understands that COVID-19 has caused significant economic hardships for businesses as we all work together to reduce the spread of the virus and keep our neighbours safe," the statement noted.

"That is why we have set up the Business Response Team to help answer any questions businesses may have about available supports and to provide clarity to the operations of allowable business services." 

The statement did not address questions about how the government is selecting which services are essential.

Daryl Kehoe, owner of Kehoe RV, says many people might be left in a difficult situation if the government doesn't include RV dealers as an essential service moving forward, as many aspects of an RV cannot be serviced at a regular garage. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

Kehoe also that with snowbird vacations cut short, there are many people living in their RV.

That is being seen right across Canada, said Eleonore Hamm, president of the RV Dealers Association of Canada. 

She said the association has been advocating that RV dealers be designated as an essential service across the country. That designation is even more important as snowbirds returning from abroad are self-isolating and potentially living in their RV long-term, she said.

"What we found is that some of them may have rented their homes out to someone while they're gone for the six months," she said. "So now they're going to have to stay either in their RV or bring their RV to a park or be utilizing their vehicle and we want to ensure they have access and be able to do that." 

Hamm said RVs may also become an essential part of the pandemic response, as some frontline medical staff have started using them to distance themselves from their families. 

She said the association is preparing to publish a form on its website where front-line workers can request support. Hamm said those requests would then be forwarded to association members. She said this is just another reason why RV dealers and service providers should be considered an essential service.

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