If on the job impairment results from legitimate addiction, employees of the TTC could be given a second chance.
On May 8th 2017, the TTC implemented a controversial random drug and alcohol testing policy after Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court Frank Marrocco dismissed an injunction application from the TTC workers’ union and ruled that protecting public safety takes precedence over the privacy of TTC employees.
2.5% Positive Rate
Since then, the TTC has tested 680 of its workers, with 17 positive results of workplace inebriation. Of the 17 who tested positive, five had consumed alcohol, twelve had used unspecified drugs, and two refused to be tested and faced disciplinary action. Two of the workers who tested positive were transit vehicle operators, one of whom was non-union with a supervisory or management position. The TTC is still awaiting results for 24 employees.
Of the 17 employees who tested positive for drugs or alcohol, ten are no longer employed by the TTC, four are still under investigation, and three have retained their positions within the company due to sufficient evidence of substance addictions.
“We don’t want anybody to be coming to work impaired, needless to say. But at the same time we want people to be healthy,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, adding, “people have addictions. We want to help them.”
TTC Supports Self-declaration of Substance Abuse Disorders
If an employee of the TTC claims that their drug or alcohol use is the result of an addiction, their case is reviewed by an independent substance abuse professional, as well as by management and employee relations staff at the TTC. If the employee’s addiction claim is deemed legitimate, the employee is allowed to keep his/her job and is directed towards a treatment program.
After successfully completing the treatment program, the employee must be tested for drugs and alcohol before returning to work, and is also required to submit random samples when requested by the employer for a period of two years. According to Ross, although employees are dealt with individually, they can be dismissed from the TTC if they are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol during any one of these random tests.
The TTC’s support of its employees isn’t due only to its efforts to help its workers, as according to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the TTC is required by law to extend special consideration to employees with addictions, as addiction has been recognized as a legitimate disability.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113’s opposition to the random drug testing policy within the TTC is currently awaiting an arbitration ruling. The union, which represents more than 10,000 TTC employees, claims that the policy violates TTC workers’ rights, although it recognizes that workers who have admitted to addictions should be subjected to unannounced testing in order to protect public safety.