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Toronto Transit Commission faces worker shortage over mandatory vaccine mandate

As of Friday, 80 percent of workers disclosed their vaccination status, as well as three-quarters of unionized employees. Of those employees, over 90 percent are fully vaccinated.

Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary AB

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) faces a worker shortage over its COVID vaccine mandate, forcing them to recall retired workers to fill labour gaps possibly. All TTC workers must be fully vaccinated by October 30.

TTC Spokesperson Stuart Green said Monday the recall of retired operators is "one of the contingencies we are exploring." As of Friday, 80 percent of workers disclosed their vaccination status, as well as three-quarters of unionized employees. Of those employees, over 90 percent are fully vaccinated, while the remainder received one shot to date, reported CP24.

The TTC pushed back start dates for bus, streetcar and subway sign-ups to November 3 to account for the mandate deadline. "Out of due diligence, we need to envision different scenarios and our service planning process requires a long lead time," said a TTC spokesperson.

While the TTC has yet to decide the consequences employees who refuse to show proof of vaccination face, the union advised its 12,000 members to withhold their vaccination status due to concerns the policy infringed upon human rights. The union called the approach "confrontational" and claimed the TTC "repeatedly failed to share vital information."

ATU Local 113 maintained that TTC management failed to consult the union on its mandatory vaccination policy and claimed they did not provide reasonable alternatives to the mandate, such as regular testing, reported Global News.

"We believe mandating vaccination as a term of employment violates the Collective Agreement, Charter and privacy law," said the union's president Carlos Santos in a statement. "We are committed to fighting this issue at grievance arbitration if TTC does not reconsider the policy."

"TTC workers have already been under [an] enormous amount of stress throughout the pandemic," he continued. "This unnecessary and unlawful policy has only made things worse. Our members want to focus on serving transit riders. Instead, they have sleepless nights worrying about losing their ability to provide for their families over a health-care choice."

In response, the TTC applied with the Ontario Labour Relations Board last week, seeking to rule against the union's "illegal strike action." However, the union reversed its stance and advised members to comply with the TTC's vaccination policy shortly after.

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