Court upholds random drug and alcohol testing at the TTC

Today, Ontario Superior Court Associate Chief Justice, the Honourable Frank Marrocco, denied an application by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 for an injunction against the TTC's decision to implement random drug and alcohol testing.

Random testing is part of the TTC's broader fitness for duty policy to improve the safety of its workplace, its customers and all Toronto road users. Random testing will start later this month.

Read the court's decision.

Since 2010, the TTC has had a fitness for duty policy that permits workplace testing for drugs and alcohol under certain conditions, such as reasonable cause and post-incident. In 2011, the TTC board approved adding random drug and alcohol testing to the policy. The TTC did not implement it at the time as it was in arbitration over the entire fitness for duty policy and was hopeful resolution would be speedy, given the seriousness of the matter.

However, resolution through arbitration has not been swift. The TTC felt it could wait no longer, given the increasing number of positive workplace test results and test refusals it has seen, thereby potentially compromising employee and public safety. As North America's third largest transit system, carrying more than 500 million people annually, employing 14,000 people in a region of some 5 million, the TTC has a duty of care to its employees and the public.

The TTC uses a breathalyzer to measure the presence of alcohol. An oral fluid sample measures the presence of drugs at the time of the test. A breathalyzer provides immediate results, while results for a drug test take 2-3 days. Unless there is reasonable cause at the time of the drug test or there is a reading showing the presence of alcohol, employees will return to work after the test is administered. The TTC will only be advised of a test's pass or fail; a positive drug test is at a level showing a likelihood of impairment at the time the test is administered.

Approximately 10,000 employees in safety sensitive positions are part of the TTC's random testing program, including designated management positions and all executives. The TTC will randomly test 20% of its workforce annually.

Random testing for alcohol and drugs is the law in the United States, as well as in Europe and Australia. The TTC's legal factum that was submitted to the courts last month, explains the rationale for random testing and is based on the absolute need for safety.

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