TTC subway operator tests positive for COVID-19, union says

A Toronto subway operator has tested positive for COVID-19, the union that represents TTC workers says.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 said in a news release on Tuesday that the subway operator, who works out of its Wilson Division, has not been at work since early March 16. 

The union said the operator left work feeling unwell shortly after his shift began on Monday at 5:30 a.m. The operator has been at home since that time and received the positive test result on Tuesday, the union said.

According to the TTC, the operator worked part of a shift on Line 1. The transit agency said it has begun to identify a small number of employees with whom the operator had "casual contact" on March 16. It said the workers will be advised to monitor themselves for symptoms.

"Although this is an evolving situation, we do know that he worked part of a shift on Line 1 on March 16 before reporting feeling unwell and booking off sick. He has not been at work since," the TTC said in a statement on Tuesday.

"At this time, Toronto Public Health has advised that there is no increased risk to other employees or customers."

The TTC added that subway operators work in cabs that are separated from the public, and cleaned and disinfected daily. Operators have also been provided with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer since the COVID-19 outbreak began, it added.

The transit agency has been working with Toronto Public Health on next steps and has consulted with ATU Local 113 and employee representatives on its joint health and safety committee about the situation.

"The operator is currently resting at home and we wish him a full and speedy recovery," the TTC said.

Subway operator is doing well, union says

According to the union, ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos spoke to operator on the phone and he is doing well.

The union said it is also working with the TTC and Toronto Public Health to determine what it should do next to protect riders and other workers. How the subway worker became infected with the virus remains under investigation, but the union said it wanted to update its members "as soon as possible."

"As we provide a critical service for our city during this pandemic, including for health care workers, ATU Local 113 continues to push the TTC and Toronto Public Health to do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for TTC workers and riders," the release said.

ATU Local 113 said it secured a number of protections for its members, including:

  • The choice to wear face masks.
  • Mandatory rear-door boarding on TTC buses.
  • No cash, youth or senior tickets or tokens as payment on buses.
  • The option for fare collectors and customer service agents to remain in booths while on the job.
  • Additional cleaning in work areas.
  • Full pay for self-isolation and quarantines.
  • No medical notes for sick leave up and including March 31.

"We understand this is a very challenging time for all — and many of you are worried about health protection," it added.