Two TTC workers fail new drug and alcohol testing protocol

The very first worker to be tested under the TTC's new random drug and alcohol policy was found to be impaired. Another employee has failed a drug test.

New policy came into effect May 8, with 51 tests to be performed this week

Random drug and alcohol testing of more than 10,000 TTC employees started on Monday. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)

The very first worker to be tested under the TTC's new random drug and alcohol policy was found to be impaired, the TTC confirmed on Wednesday. Later in the day, a spokesperson said another employee failed a drug test.

A judge recently upheld the TTC's decision to require employees to take random drug and alcohol tests, despite attempts by their union to block the policy.

The worker who was found to be impaired, who is not an operator, blew more than 0.04 on a breathalyzer test, according to Brad Ross, executive director of communications at the transit commission.

"We are incredibly disappointed at this, but it does affirm our belief for random drug and alcohol testing to drive down the number of instances of impairment that we've seen rise over the last couple of years," he said.

The worker has been suspended with pay, pending the result of their drug test which is due back in two to three days. 

The TTC did not immediately provide further details about the second worker that failed a drug test, but a statement is expected later Wednesday.

Thousands of employees to be tested

More than 10,000 TTC employees are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. In this first week of the new policy, there are 51 tests scheduled, with "about seven or eight" taking place each day, Ross explained earlier in the day.

The TTC considers anything over 0.04 as impairment, whereas the 0.02 to 0.039 range is called a "policy violation." Under provincial law, driving with a blood alcohol level over a 0.08 is considered a criminal offence. The "warn range" is between 0.05 and 0.08. 

When it comes to the drug test, Ross says the TTC isn't made aware of what drug an employee may test positive for — only that they have passed or failed the test.

"We are not interested in what people do on their own time, recreationally. If they smoke a joint on the weekend, that's of no interest to us," he added. "It becomes an interest to us when they're at work and they're impaired at work."

Ross says the testing is also acting as a deterrent, encouraging people who may have dependencies to come forward and seek the help they need through various programs the agency offers.

Blood alcohol levels

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) a person's body type, weight and food intake at the time of drinking can all impact your blood alcohol level and for "the vast majority of people, drinking socially — having a glass of wine or two with dinner or a beer or two after work — will not put them above the 0.05% level."