The Toronto Transit Commission is forging ahead with a plan to begin random drug testing of its employees after approving the move at a board meeting on Wednesday.
Random testing was added to the TTC’s Fitness for Duty policy in 2011 but funding for the program wasn’t approved until earlier this year.
The estimated cost for the program is $1.3 million annually.
“The implementation of random drug and alcohol testing would hopefully incentivize such persons to come forward to get help. TTC has in place extensive support mechanisms available to individuals who are suffering or suspect they may be suffering from such disorders,” a staff report wrote.
“Should such individuals decide not to come forward and get help, but later be found to be impaired at work due to a random test, then there could be employment ramifications for them, depending on the circumstances.”
TTC union head Bob Kinnear argued against the testing plan at the board meeting on Wednesday saying less invasive methods should be used instead.
Drug testing has been in place at the transit agency since 2010 but is only conducted if there is reasonable ground an employee is impaired on the job.
The move on random testing came about after a transit bus rear-ended a truck in 2011 resulting in the death of a 43-year-old mother.
The transit driver, who had refused a drug test, was later charged after marijuana was discovered in his duffel bag.
The TTC said there have been 291 incidents of impairment or refusal by an employee to take a test since 2010.
Under the new random testing policy, employees would be subject to oral swabbing and breathalyzer tests.
The TTC said it would like to begin the program as soon as possible.