Fearing ‘outbreak’ of COVID-19 at TTC’s Queensway bus garage, union calls for mass testing

The union representing TTC workers on Saturday called on Toronto Public Health (TPH) to conduct COVID-19 tests on employees at the commission’s Queensway Division, where it said four people have contracted the virus and four more have been exhibiting symptoms.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 wants TPH to urgently send a special mobile unit to the facility.

“Our concerns are that this is an outbreak in this garage,” ATU Canada president John Di Nino said in a news release.

“We have been asking both the TTC and Toronto Public Health to intervene and take all of the reasonable measures, including testing all of our members on a priority scale to ensure that we stop the curve and eliminate the spread of this virus.”

On Wednesday, 33 TTC bus drivers temporarily walked off the job, refusing to work at Queensway Division, as they pressed their demand for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield them from the novel coronavirus.

“We need to stop this right now,” Di Nino said. 

“We do not want to lose a member in the line of duty or any of the public who could be potentially affected by COVID-19.”

In addition to the testing, the union is also demanding the immediate cleaning of Queensway facilities and vehicles. 

It is also calling for all workers to self-isolate for 14 days — with 100 per cent pay — until they test negative.

3 employees self-isolating at home, others asked to stay home

Late Saturday night the TTC said it is aware that there is a work refusal underway by eight maintenance workers at the Queensway Garage and that there are workers showing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus.

“The provincial Ministry of Labour has been notified and is reviewing the refusals,” communications adviser Hayley Waldman wrote in a statement.

“Today we found out about three individuals who are showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, who had contact with a confirmed case at our Queensway Garage.”

There was no immediate explanation as to why the union and the TTC had different counts of the ill workers.

Waldman said the three individuals are self-isolating at home and have been asked to go for testing.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have made a joint decision with Toronto Public Health to have all employees on the same shift stay home while we wait for test results,” Waldman said.

“As an extra precaution, we have already deep-cleaned the entire maintenance area of the Queensway facility and continue to reinforce the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms and following all recommendations set out by Toronto Public Health.”

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