About 50 per cent of TTC workers who failed drug test tested positive for pot: report
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017 7:34AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 15, 2017 2:09PM EST
About 50 per cent of the TTC workers who have failed a random drug and alcohol test since the new policy was implemented in May tested positive for pot, according to a recent report from the transit agency's CEO.
The report, which was released this week, shows that from May 8, 2017 to Oct. 19, 2017, 1,174 employees were tested and 23 people, or about two per cent, were not compliant with the policy.
According to the staff report, 16 tested positive for drugs, five tested positive for alcohol, and two refused to take the test.
Since the report was published, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 that more than 1,300 people have been tested and there has been one additional person who tested positive for drugs and an additional refusal.
Ross said five of the 22 who failed the test were TTC operators.
“We have 5,000 operators… The vast majority of them know they have to come to work fit for duty. There is no question about that,” Ross said.
He added that the number of employees who did not pass reinforces the need for random drug and alcohol testing.
“We think it is high but we also think it is an indication that this was the right thing to do, that bringing in random testing is important,” he said.
“Nothing is more important than safety in a transit system, particularly at the TTC, and so this is about public safety and employee safety.”
Union calls policy 'unfair and heavy-handed'
Of those who failed the drug and alcohol test, the report says a little more than half of them tested positive for marijuana.
In a statement released Wednesday, Frank Grimaldi, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents TTC employees, said while safety should "always be the top priority," drug testing is a "total infringement" on what workers do in their spare time.
"If someone were to smoke a joint on a Friday night, and come to work on Monday morning, that person could test positive for THC and not be impaired," the statement read.
"The TTC’s unfair and heavy-handed policy tramples on the rights of transit workers. Our union will continue to fight the TTC’s abuse of employer power against the hardworking women and men who safely move this city.”
But Ross said the test only measures the likely impairment of the employee at the time they are tested.
“You can smoke recreationally today. It’s none of our business. What is our business is if you come to work impaired,” Ross said.
“It is an oral swab that tests for impairment at the time. Not what you did on Friday night.”
More than 10,000 employees are subject to the random testing, including operators and maintenance employees, as well as designated supervisors, managers and executives.
"Anyone who in theory could have to take on an operational role, even if in a remote scenario, they are under testing," TTC Chair Josh Colle told CP24 Wednesday.
"Someone who would never have any connection with anything safety-sensitive would not be."
He said anyone who fails the drug test is immediately pulled off the job.
"The goal of this program is obviously safety but it is also to make sure this employee gets the help they need if there is a chronic problem. That’s the approach that’s taken, where there is a whole suite of services that are offered for this employee," he said.
Ross confirmed that while the vast majority of workers who failed the test have since been fired, a few have been reinstated after seeking treatment.
He noted that when employees are reinstated, they undergo more rigorous testing to make sure they remain compliant with the policy.
When asked if he thinks the legalization of marijuana will have an impact on testing, Ross said it will be the same principle as drinking alcohol.
“Alcohol is legal. You can drink on your own time. You can’t drink at work,” he said.