More than 350 TTC employees fired for failing to comply with COVID vaccine mandate

General view of a TTC signage and entrance at Union Station on Front Street in Toronto on October 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Dominic Chan

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) says it has fired more than 350 employees who failed to comply with the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In an email to Global News on Monday, Stuart Green, a spokesperson for TTC, said in total, 354 employees — or approximately two per cent of the commission’s workforce — were terminated on Dec. 31, 2021.

Green said the workers were fired for being non-compliant with the COVID-19 vaccination policy.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve followed the science and the best public health advice,” the email read. “It is commonly accepted by experts that the best way out of the pandemic and the best way to keep employees safe in the workplace is to have everyone vaccinated.”

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Back in October, TTC issued a notice saying as of Dec. 31, any employee who remained unvaccinated or who had not shared proof of “complete vaccination dosage will have their employment terminated.”

TTC specified, though, that the measures would not apply to employees who had an approved Ontario Human Rights Code accommodation or medical exemption.

Green said it was the TTC’s “hope” that “everyone would agree with every credible expert and voluntarily comply with the policy.”

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“It’s truly unfortunate a very small number of people did not,” he said in the email.

Green said the policy and consequences were “clearly articulated for months in advance of the Dec. 31 deadline.”

TTC employees who didn’t receive their COVID-19 vaccination were put on paid leave back on Nov. 21, 2021, forcing the company to operate reduced services.

According to Green, there will be no further impact to TTC services, because the fired employees’ absences were already factored into the service changes in November.

Green said the TTC is now actively “recruiting, hiring and training new operators.”

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Green said 200 employees have been on leave awaiting second shots or accommodations.

“That number is coming down daily as more people return to work,” he wrote in the email.

On Saturday, Marvin Alfred, the president of the TTC employees union ATU Local 113, issued a statement saying it has a “responsibility to protect the rights of all members.”

“We believe these terminations are wrong and unjust, and that the TTC can provide a safe workplace through reliable alternatives to mandatory vaccination, such as regular COVID testing, as is being done in Mississauga and Brampton Transit,” the statement reads. “Of course ATU Local 113 fully supports COVID-19 vaccination.”

Alfred said the union’s members were terminated “due to a confrontational attitude from TTC management, lack of consultation with our union over the policy and management overreach” that he claims is “hurting families during a difficult time.”

The policy and terminations are “currently before a labour arbitrator,” Alfred said.

“ATU Local 113 believes that we will ultimately be successful and our members will be returned to work,” the statement reads.

The move comes just days after the City of Toronto said 461 employees were fired for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination policy.

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According to Green, the 354 employees fired by the TTC were not included in the city’s count.

Click to play video: 'Unvaccinated TTC workers placed on unpaid leave'
Unvaccinated TTC workers placed on unpaid leave

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