Blog Post #1271 – Transit Firm Mulls Random Testing

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (July 2017)

Metrolinx, the company that runs the GO Transit commuter system throughout the Greater Toronto area, as well as the Union Pearson Express (UP) trains from downtown Toronto to Toronto Pearson International Airport, is considering whether it should adopt random alcohol and drug testing for some of its employees.

Following the Ontario Superior Court’s recent decision to allow the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to implement random testing on its bus, streetcar and subway operators, Metrolinx formed the committee as of early June 2017 to review its processes for determining fitness for duty, according to Alex Burke, the provincial agency’s senior adviser for media relations, communications and public affairs.

“Our goal is to ensure that Metrolinx continues to strike the right balance between employee privacy concerns and the safety and security of our customers and transit system,” Burke says. He adds that the company has a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and alcohol at work. “We do random check-ins on our drivers, including unannounced work site visits from supervisors.”

The company also has employee-assistance and peer-supported programs to help individuals who may have issues before they affect their work performance. If a supervisor detects that an employee may not be fit to operate a motor vehicle, “we remove the employee from such duties. The police will be called if a driver appears to be impaired while on duty.”

Burke clarifies that while GO buses are operated by Metrolinx employees, GO and UP trains are operated by workers with Bombardier Canada. Although Metrolinx does not currently perform random testing, “if a GO bus driver is involved in an accident, it becomes a police investigation,” he explains. “Police would administer drug and/or alcohol testing if necessary.”

Bombardier already administers drug and alcohol testing for a variety of reasons.

Danny Harris, President of Local 1587 of the Amalgamated Transit Union representing GO bus drivers, says the organization is reviewing the situation.

My opinion

The real need for drug and alcohol testing is there. We do not allow drivers on our roads that are impaired so why do the bus, streetcar and train drivers expect less restrictions? Since it seems that self-policing is not working then tougher action needs to be taken.

As a former union member, I can tell you that safety over privilege has to be the work culture.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.



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