Metrolinx May Begin Drug Testing in the Workplace

The Hamilton Spectator reports that Metrolinx may begin alcohol and drug testing in the workplace.

Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of GO Transit and Union Pearson Express (UPX), formed a committee to study the issue last year. Now, Metrolinx officials are waiting to see how workplace drug testing goes at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) before moving forward with its own plan.

Drug Testing at the TTC

The TTC hired employer drug testing services and began doing spot-checks of workers in safety-sensitive positions in May of 2017. The union that represents TTC workers have been battling management in arbitration over the issue since 2011. Recently, the Superior Court rejected the union’s request for the court to step in and stop the testing via an injunction.

Since the TTC began random alcohol and drug testing in the workplace, four employees have failed tests.

The Impaired Driving Incident at GO Transit

Metrolinx currently has a zero-tolerance approach to drug and alcohol use on the job, but it does not make use of employer drug testing services to enforce the policy. Instead, the agency does unannounced check-ins with drivers to ensure compliance.

Back in April, a GO Bus driver was discovered to be impaired during one of these random check-ins. Metrolinx removed him from duty, and he was charged with impaired driving and excess blood alcohol.

According to Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, this was the first such incident in GO Transit history, and that no driver has ever been involved in an accident due to drugs or alcohol. However, the agency wants to be cautious.

“Some of our positions are driving trains, they’re driving buses on highways fast, with lots of customers, so there is a high risk associated with their job if they aren’t fit for duty,” said Aikins.

GO Transit Union Opposes Workplace Drug Testing

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587 represents GO Transit drivers. Though the union has not commented on the announcement yet, the leader of the union’s parent organization has opposed random drug and alcohol testing in the past, calling it a “breach of employee’s human rights.”

That is why Metrolinx officials are watching the TTC carefully. “The law right now is a bit murky, so while it’s being tested at the TTC, we’re watching that to see if we move towards that direction,” says Aikins.