Two TTC employees found under influence on first day of random testing
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, May 10, 2017 12:31PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 10, 2017 6:56PM EDT
The first day of the TTC's random drug and alcohol screening resulted in two workers found to be impaired.
The positive tests occured on Monday, which was also the first day of the transit commission's new random drug and alcohol policy, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24. Eight employees were screened.
The very first worker to be tested was found to be under the influence of alcohol, while the other was found to be under the influence of drugs.
“While we are disappointed this does affirm that this program is necessary to ensure that the system remains safe,” Ross said.
The employee who tested positive for alcohol, was not an operator, but blew more than 0.04 on a breathalyzer test, he added.
Both workers have been suspeneded with pay, pending the result of their drug test which is due back in two to three days. An investigation is underway, in which the pair will be interviewed.
Though no decision on discipline has been made at this point, Ross said that the employees could ultimately be dismissed.
“We are being very, very careful in how we implement this program to ensure we are doing it with due process,” Ross said.
Thousands of TTC workers to be tested
More than 10,000 TTC workers are deemed to have safety sensitive positions, includes maintenance workers, supervisors and executives. They are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. In the first week, there are 51 tests scheduled, with "about seven or eight" taking place each day, Ross explained.
“The vast majority of our employees are fit for duty but it only takes one catastrophe to turn this whole place upside down and we don’t want that to happen," he said.
The TTC was cleared to conduct random testing in April after an Ontario Superior Court ruled there is a “demonstrated workplace drug and alcohol problem at the TTC” and that the commission is therefore within its rights to require its employees to submit to random testing.
The TTC considers anything over 0.04 as impairment, whereas the 0.02 to 0.039 range is called a "policy violation." Under provincial law, driving with a blood alcohol level over a 0.08 is considered a criminal offence. The "warn range" is between 0.05 and 0.08.
'Union will provide whatever support is needed'
In a statement issued early Wednesday when only one positive test had been confirmed, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Morton said his union would be providing support to the employee.
“Our union will provide whatever support is needed to ensure a fair process for the individual involved,” he said.
The TTC has said that about 20 per cent of its workforce will be submitted to random drug and alcohol testing each year.
On average, about 50 employees will be tested each week with a third-party responsible for administering the tests, Ross said.