TTC plans service cuts starting in November due to workers failing to comply with the vaccine mandate

The TTC says it plans to cut transit service starting November 21 because a significant portion of its workforce will not comply with its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

In a press release on Wednesday, the transit agency announced that its November and December schedules will include “small and temporary reductions in service” as a result of “employees who will not be eligible for work” after the November 20 deadline. for vaccination.

The statement did not provide specific details of the planned service reductions, but the agency said the changes were designed to keep service “reliable and predictable” while “protecting existing service” on busier bus routes such as the from Wilson, Jane, Eglinton. , Finch and Lawrence East.

Other routes would see similar reductions to the seasonal changes made during the summer and around the December holidays, the TTC said.

The agency predicted that changes to scheduled wait times “will generally be minimal” and the crowding of vehicles will remain within existing service standards. The routes will continue to have the same operating hours.

“Since the pandemic began, our commitment has been to provide a safe service based on demand and focusing on the busiest routes in the city,” TTC Executive Director Rick Leary said in a statement.

“Our plans for November and December ensure that we can continue to do so, even with a reduction in the available workforce. Protecting the service for those who need us most and providing the service that our clients expect from us is my priority ”.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents nearly 12,000 TTC workers and opposes mandatory vaccinations, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Under revised deadlines announced by the TTC earlier this month, employees who are not vaccinated or who have refused to share their status before November 20 will receive unpaid leave until they receive their vaccinations. As of December 31, those who have not yet complied will be fired. The policy does not apply to employees with an approved exemption under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

According to the press release, 88 percent of TTC’s more than 15,000 active employees have confirmed their vaccination status. Among unionized workers, a group that includes bus, tram and metro operators, the disclosure rate is less than 86 percent. The TTC said that “the vast majority” of employees who have shared their status are fully vaccinated.

TTC passenger numbers are currently at about 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The transit agency said that to ensure it can match service with demand, it will temporarily postpone capital projects and cancel subway closures during weekends and early morning hours to redistribute shuttle bus operators on regular routes. .

He also plans to continue hiring new operators in the coming months, reassigning the regular service bus operators who are normally responsible for moving vehicles between divisions, and attempting to hire recent retirees.

The TTC and Local 113 have been fighting over vaccine policy since the transit agency announced in August that it planned to make COVID-19 inoculation mandatory.

When the agency released details of the plan in September, the union urged its members not to comply by refusing to disclose their vaccination status to management. Local 113 reversed that stance late last month after the TTC filed an application with the Ontario Labor Relations Board alleging that its opposition to the mandate amounted to illegal strike action.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter who covers transportation. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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