Metrolinx suspends unvaccinated employees, resulting in 89 bus trip cancellations Monday

Metrolinx has suspended a number of employees who aren’t fully vaccinated, and now say the resulting staff shortage has forced the cancellation of a number of GO bus trips.

Check your commuting schedule all week, transit agency tells customers

Metrolinx has placed a number of employees on unpaid leave for not disclosing their vaccination status. As a result, the GTA transit agency has been forced to cancel several bus trips and customers are being urged to check their schedules. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Metrolinx has suspended a number of employees who aren't fully vaccinated, and now says the resulting staff shortage has forced the cancellation of a number of GO bus trips.

On Monday, 89 bus trips were cancelled as its COVID-19 vaccine mandate took effect. Metrolinx says the number represents approximately six per cent of daily bus trips. 

The transit agency serving the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area says a "limited number" of bus trips will be cancelled, but didn't list which ones. It also said some "intermittent train trips" could be cancelled.

Customers are being urged to check their schedules all week or sign up for GO alerts.

Employees at the agency had until Nov. 1 to get vaccinated, provide a medical exemption or be placed on leave without pay.

There are 150 staff with the organization on unpaid leave as of Monday afternoon.

Spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said Metrolinx was gathering final numbers Monday but estimated that between two and three per cent of its 4,600 employees were on leave.

 "It's a very small number ... but enough to have an impact," Aikins said in an emailed statement.

She said 97 per cent of employees had shared their vaccination status as of Friday, with 95 per cent saying they are fully vaccinated, 2.6 per cent partially vaccinated and two per cent were unvaccinated.

"We expect the impact to be minimal as we are working hard to strategically choose a variety of trips across the region  that have low ridership and have other bus and rail options available for customers," Aikins said.

Aikins said cancellations are likely to continue throughout the week and customers should check for service updates.

Metrolinx and Alstom, which provides train crews for the agency, were both in the process of hiring more people, she added.

Toronto also assessing service impacts from staff suspensions

Last week, the Toronto Transit Commission announced it was going to reduce the service on some routes as well due to a worker shortage caused by its vaccine mandate. 

Meanwhile, the City of Toronto said Monday it was assessing "anticipated service level impacts" from staff suspensions as it reached a major deadline in its own vaccination mandate.

City workers had until Saturday to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or be placed on leave as of Monday.

Ninety-four per cent reported being fully vaccinated, the city said, while four per cent had received one shot. One per cent of staff reported not being vaccinated and about two per cent had not disclosed their vaccination status.

Possible job losses are to follow for those who remain unvaccinated by Dec. 13.

The city said it's focused on keeping critical services running and promised "no impact" to emergency responses from police, fire or paramedic services.

With files from The Canadian Press


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