More protection needed as TTC service cuts kick in on May 10

TORONTO, ONTARIO –  The union representing 12,000 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) workers today is calling on the City of Toronto to make it mandatory for TTC riders to wear face masks or face coverings on local public transit.

On the eve of the TTC’s 15 per cent cut in transit service, which takes effect on Sunday, May 10, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 is concerned the service cuts will lead to crowding on several TTC routes, increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus on the TTC.

“The math is straightforward – as more businesses re-open, more people will be taking public transit with less TTC vehicles on the road,” said Carlos Santos, ATU Local 113 President. “The City of Toronto must protect workers and the public by making face coverings mandatory on the TTC.”

Several North American municipalities, including New York City and Montreal, have or are considering making face masks mandatory on public transit.

ATU Local 113’s call for mandatory face coverings on local public transit comes at a time when the Ontario government and City of Toronto are moving towards re-opening the economy, which will increase ridership on the TTC.

“As Ontario starts to re-open the economy, there is no time to waver in protecting the public and workers,” said Carlos Santos. “We must be ready for the increase in ridership as more people will depend on the TTC to get to work safe.”

Despite calls from numerous organizations, including ATU Local 113, the federal and provincial governments have yet to provide emergency financial support for the TTC and other public transit services. Without urgent action from senior levels of government, the TTC is set to layoff 1,200 workers and cut transit service by 15 per cent. These service cuts will have a significant impact on many low-income essential workers who depend on the TTC to get to hospitals, long-term care homes, grocery stores, pharmacies and other critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public transit workers have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since the very beginning,” said Carlos Santos. “Instead of supporting TTC workers who have put themselves and their loved ones at risk, government inaction will lead to pink slips for many public transit workers and hurt some of our city’s most vulnerable people who depend on the TTC. How is this fair?”

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