2% of tested Toronto transit employees fail drug test in first 6 months: TTC

TTC buses at Pearson International Airport on Aug. 15, 2013. Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two per cent of Toronto Transit Commission employees randomly tested for drugs or alcohol since the spring were found to be impaired, newly released figures show, and marijuana was by far the substance of choice.

Twenty-three employees out of 1,174 tested between May 8 and Oct. 19 failed the test, while two employees refused it, according to a report from TTC CEO Andy Byford released on Monday.

Twelve employees, just over half of those testing positive, were impaired by marijuana, followed by five who were impaired by alcohol.

2% of tested Toronto transit employees fail drug test in first 6 months: TTC - image
TTCChief Executive Officer’s Report

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that the results demonstrate that implementing the testing program — which was met with criticism from the union representing employees — was “the right thing to do.”

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On The Tasha Kheiriddin Show on AM640 Wednesday, Ross said the vast majority of those found to be impaired have been dismissed, with a few others receiving treatment for addiction issues.

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LISTEN: Brad Ross joins the Tasha Kheiriddin Show

Ross said that the TTC’s random tests are designed to capture impairment at the time of the test only, not whether drugs are present in an employee’s system.

“Anybody who tests positive for say, marijuana on an oral swab is very, very likely to be impaired,” Ross said, adding that the TTC isn’t interested in what employees do in their time off the job.

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It’s been seven months since the TTC launched a plan to conduct random, third-party drug and alcohol testing on 20 per cent of employees in safety-sensitive positions as part of its Fitness for Duty policy.  Those positions include vehicle operators, supervisors, transit control centre staff and maintenance workers.

In April, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents over 9,000 TTC employees, attempted to get an Ontario judge to halt the implementation through an injunction request, which was denied. At that time, the union vowed to fight the testing in arbitration.

The program comes at an estimated cost of $1.3 million per year.

With files from David Shum and Nick Westoll, Global News

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