Transit workers' union demands TTC provide personal protective equipment

Apr 6 2020, 12:43 pm

The transit workers’ unions are calling on the TTC to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the ATU Local 113, which represents 12,000 workers, said that TTC workers are exposed to thousands of riders each day and must have access to PPE and face masks if they choose to wear it.

“With Premier Doug Ford warning of a coronavirus surge in Ontario, TTC management must move fast to protect public transit workers,” Carlos Santos, president of ATU Local 113, said in a statement.

“As Ontario looks to meet demand for PPE, we must remember our public transit workers who are among the heroes of this pandemic. We must find a way to protect health care professionals and all those working on the frontlines during this health crisis, including public transit workers.”

Santos also pointed to the transit unions’ demand that workers be allowed to wear face masks which was approved by the TTC on March 18. However, these masks had to be provided by the workers themselves.

“The TTC had resisted allowing workers to wear protective masks on the job citing health officials’ claims they do not provide protection. However, new medical opinions suggest face masks can help protect people during the coronavirus pandemic,” Santos said.

The union president mentions the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revising its guidelines on face masks, now requiring all residents in the US to wear the protective gear in public.

The statement also including a quote from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health, who said, “like the United States, Canada is looking at the latest information and looking at recommendations right now.”

Following the the ATU Local 113’s release, during a press conference, Dr. Tam said Canadians can wear non-medical masks while out in public “as an additional measure” to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.

“With public health officials looking at new guidelines on face masks, it only makes sense for the TTC to do the same and help find masks to protect workers,” Santos said. “Public transit workers have been right all along that we must do everything to protect people, including the choice to wear masks.”

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford said that medical supplies in the province are “strained,” due to the US not allowing supplies to cross the border.

He added that because the US is not allowing PPE supplies to be exported, getting supplies from other countries during this time is becoming “increasingly difficult.”

Ford also mentioned that supplies in Ontario are getting “low” and there is an increased demand for medical supplies, as more new cases are confirmed every day.

To date, six TTC employees have tested positive for the virus.

Daily Hive has reached out to the TTC for comment.