Two More TTC Employees, One In Supervisory Role, Fail Drug Tests

– By BEN SPURR, Transportation Reporter, Toronto Star (Thursday June 1, 2017)

Four workers have been caught by random drug and alcohol tests since these began May 8. None of them have been drivers.

Two more TTC employees failed on-the-job drug tests last month, taking the number of transit workers nabbed by the agency’s new random testing policy to four.

“It is, of course, disappointing, and it is always disappointing when we get a positive result,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross in an interview Thursday.

He said the positive results vindicate the TTC’s random testing policy, which has been in place for less than a month.

“This is part of ensuring that the TTC remains a safe public transit system, for our customers, for the public, and for our employees who work alongside colleagues who may come to work not fit for duty.”

Ross wouldn’t provide specific information about the two employees, but confirmed that neither was a driver or vehicle operator. One was a non-unionized employee, which means the person held a supervisory or management role.

He also wouldn’t disclose what substances the workers were found to have ingested, but the drug test they failed detects common intoxicants including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP. A breathalyzer test is used to detect alcohol.

The TTC began random drug and alcohol tests of its workforce on May 8, after a labour and court battle with the transit workers’ union that dragged on for years. The very first employee selected failed a breathalyzer test, and a second worker tested positive for drugs later that day.

One of the more recent positive tests occurred during the week of May 15 and the second occurred the week after that, Ross said.

About 10,000 transit workers in “safety-sensitive” and other designated positions are eligible for random testing. The transit agency intends to test about 20 per cent of them annually.

The agency tests between 40 and 50 workers each week, meaning that four out of roughly 150 workers, or less than 3 per cent, failed during the first three weeks.

“We believe that it is not a systemic issue,” said Kevin Morton, secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, the TTC’s largest union.

Morton accused the TTC of “fueling this idea that drivers and TTC employees are addicts.”

“I think the TTC has a responsibility to the public to report it. But I think they also have a responsibility to say you know what, the vast, vast majority of our employees are hard working employees who do not . . . violate our policy,” he said.

Ross wouldn’t say what discipline any of the four workers who tested positive have received or whether they’re still employed at the agency.

“Not being fit for duty is something the TTC is very, very serious about and I think I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.