Commuting on public transit with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is part of the daily life of many Torontonians travelling to work, home and away. Travellers depend on drivers to give them a safe, and professional ride from point A to point B. With the implementation of randomized testing, the public’s safety is at an utmost high for the city.
Since the introduction of the random testing program in May 2017, more than 1,000 employees have been tested, with 21 employees testing positive for drugs or alcohol. Random testing for drugs and alcohol looks for impairment at the time of the test, using an oral fluid sample for drugs and breathalyzers for alcohol screening.1
One of the main advantages of randomized drug testing is it may catch an impaired driver before an accident occurs, while also discouraging drivers from working while impaired because of the real possibility of getting caught. The random testing program implemented by TTC is designed to help mitigate the growing concern over drug use at the workplace and on the roads.
The Toronto Star reports: Three months into the transit agency’s controversial new random drug and alcohol testing policy, 17 out of the 680 transit workers checked have tested positive for being inebriated on the job, according to TTC figures.”2
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.3
With the new TTC program, there is a large instance of positives, but the public is being protected — not to mention the liability for TTC. However, according to the National Post, Canada ranks highest in the proportion of motor vehicle fatalities that are linked to impaired driving.4
Part of 2018’s marijuana legislation includes policies for driving under the influence of cannabis and will be using a defined range of present THC to determine a driver’s level of impairment.
A driver who is found to have at least two nanograms but less than five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood could face a fine of up to $1,000, while a driver with more than five nanograms of THC will be fined and could face jail time.5
When it comes to drug and alcohol testing, not everyone feels that randomized testing is fair or just especially when penalizing drivers for marijuana use (which is separate from illegally driving while high on marijuana).
Transit union president Frank Grimaldi believes the drug and alcohol test goes beyond testing on-the-job impairment.
“It’s an infringement on what you do on your free time,” said Grimaldi. “If someone was to smoke a joint on Friday night, and come to work on Monday morning I’m certain the person is not impaired. And yet you could test positive for THC.”
As per action for positive tests?
According to CBC, The TTC has fired 18 of the 25 employees who have either tested positive for drugs or alcohol or refused to do the test. Five workers are currently suspended, and two cases are pending a decision.6
The transit workers’ union says it’s fighting all of the dismissals.
The post, How Safe is Your Commute? TTC’s Random Testing Program for Substance Screening appeared first on the Spectrum Medical Diagnostics’ Blog.
5: Workplace substance abuse: A grave problem. Supervision, 70(6). 18-21