Pubdate: Tue, 04 Apr 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Oliver Moore
Page: A5


A judge has cleared the way for random testing of most Toronto Transit
Commission employees, accepting evidence that "there is a demonstrated
workplace drug and alcohol problem at the TTC which is currently hard
to detect and verify."

In a decision handed down Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Frank
Marrocco refused a union application for an injunction that would have
stopped the testing.

"The workplace is literally the City of Toronto and, as a result, all
the people who move about in the city, whether or not they are
passengers on the TTC, have an interest in the TTC safely taking its
passengers from one place to another," Justice Marrocco wrote.

The TTC said it plans to start the random testing for drugs and
alcohol later this month. The agency employs about 14,000 people and
10,000 of them - those deemed to be in "safetysensitive" jobs, as well
as those in designated management positions and all executives - will
be subject to periodic breathalyzers and drug tests.

These employees will have a 1 in 5 chance of being tested each year.
Penalties for failing a test, or refusing to take one, will range up
to and including dismissal.

In its argument, the TTC cited three incidents in 2015 alone in which
transit vehicles involved in collisions were being operated by people
who subsequently tested positive for drugs. One of the operators
showed signs of opiates, another turned up cannabinoids, related to
the use of medical marijuana, and the test for the third, who it
transpired "had a disability relating to substance use," showed
evidence of cocaine.

"The TTC felt it could wait no longer, given the increasing number of
positive workplace test results and test refusals it has seen, thereby
potentially compromising employee and public safety," the agency said
in a statement, explaining why it pushed for random testing even as an
earlier testing regimen was undergoing a slow arbitration process.

In the ATU local 113's own statement, secretary-treasurer Kevin Morton
said the union was "disappointed" with the judge's decision and that
it was "more energized than ever" to keep fighting the policy at

"Starting tomorrow, we'll be back at arbitration to overturn a bad
policy that is nothing more than an abuse of employer power against
the hard-working women and men who safely move this city," the union
statement concluded.
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