The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees successfully extended the deadline set by the public transport agency’s CEO regarding the disclosure of their COVID-19 vaccine status from September 30 to October 6. Only 38% of the TTC’s employees reported their vaccination status as of September 23, resulting in the extension of the predetermined cutoff point.
The low number of TTC employees divulging their vaccination status is primarily attributed to the efforts of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which opposed the move to require their members to publicly disclose whether or not they were administered with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rick Leary, the CEO for TTC, originally slated September 30 as the target date for all the public transport agency’s employees to reveal if they have been given the COVID-19 vaccine jabs or not. Given the low turnout of vaccination status reports, Leary filed a complaint for an unlawful strike with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Leary blamed the ATU Local 113 officers for “hindering the best public health advice regarding vaccinations” and engaging “in a campaign that is creating obstacles to our objectives.”
In response to Leary’s accusations, ATU Local 113 president Carlos Santos related that they had encouraged their members to report their respective vaccination status on or before September 30. However, Santos also pointed out that they can’t force their members to do so if they don’t want to.
Besides suggesting alternative measures to the vaccine like rapid testing options, Santos stressed that “every individual has the inherent right to determine their medical treatment.” Moreover, the ATU Local 113 president added that the reality of the issue is that “their employer is seeking to force workers to undergo a medical procedure under duress.”
“For other members, the decision not to vaccinate relates to their membership in a group which has legitimate social and historical reasons for distrusting the Canadian medical system,” Santos shared.
The ATU is not the first union to defy the COVID-19 vaccine status mandate in Canada. For example, the National Police Federation (NPF) announced in September that it would support its members who choose to remain unvaccinated and back them up in case they will be subjected to “employment consequences” regarding their decision.