A two-day hearing into whether TTC employees should undergo random drug and alcohol tests has begun at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
The TTC and the union representing the transit agency’s 11,000 employees appeared in court Tuesday, one day before the Fitness for Duty policy was set to launch. It would have seen 20 per cent of workers with safety-sensitive positions subject to random saliva tests and breathalyzers.
But the policy is now on hold after the TTC union filed an injunction on the grounds that the drug and alcohol tests are intrusive and inconclusive.
“What the TTC in essence is asking us to do is accept them imposing random testing and then have our 11,000 members expect that they’re going to get it right every time because there is no recourse for the employee if there is a false-positive test,” said Union President Bob Kinnear outside of court.
In a 130-page factum submitted to the court by the TTC, there is no evidence of false positives. It also said that between 2010 and 2016, there have been 291 incidents related to employee safety. In almost half of those cases, the company suspected or confirmed that alcohol or drugs was a factor. The TTC also said within the same period, 15 transit operators were charged with impaired driving by police.
There were also 45 reports of workers trafficking drugs on the job.
But Kinnear questioned the accuracy of those statistics. He also disagreed with claims that drugs and alcohol are a systemic problem at the TTC.
“It’s putting a negative cloud over our members for an issue that just doesn’t exist,” he said.
The random testing policy has now been pushed to April pending the outcome of the hearing.