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TTC launches suicide support program for the public – yet fails to focus on workers

On World Suicide Prevention Day, the TTC and Distress Centres of Greater Toronto announced a new outreach and support program to assist riders who witness suicides and attempts on subway routes. While ATU Local 113 agrees with the purpose and goals of this initiative, the TTC has yet again neglected an important part of the issue: the worker.

There is no disputing that suicides are an absolute tragedy that can have serious effects on witnesses.

That trauma can be multiplied as the operator of a subway train entering a station and having to experience such a tragedy. It can also be traumatic for workers who typically perform track repair duties.

As the stigma regarding mental health issues decreases, more TTC workers are coming forward acknowledging that they need help. Workers are being diagnosed with varying degrees of PTSD and need access to resources they have never needed to seek before.

On May 3, 2019, ATU Local 113 reached out to the TTC to form a partnership to expand Peer Support, getting the Joint Health and Safety Committees involved in worker outreach, dealing with PTSD in the workplace and the special circumstances affecting those employees dealing with the aftermath of a subway suicide.

ATU Local 113 wanted to collaborate with the TTC and form a Peer Group Committee. We wanted the TTC to step up and show their employees the same care and concern that they are showing the public today. As of this date, these requests have gone unanswered. No reply to the letter, no telephone call, no email.

Today’s announcement is good news for the public, but does not address the profound effects suicides have on workers.

We call on the TTC to build on today’s initiative to also protect workers.