The Toronto transit agency is temporarily reducing service on some routes over the next two months to deal with an expected staff shortage due to its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The Toronto Transit Commission has said that employees who are not vaccinated or who did not report their immunization status by Nov. 20 will be placed on unpaid leave until they receive all of their required vaccine doses, or December 31 – whichever comes first.
The agency said Wednesday that a small reduction in service starting next month takes into account employees who will not be able to work because they are not vaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status.
The TTC has said it is focusing on maintaining regular service on its busiest routes, while other routes will see “varying levels” of temporary service changes.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our commitment has been to safely provide service based on demand and with a focus on the city’s busiest routes,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said in a statement. written press release. “Our plans for November and December ensure that we can continue to do this, even with a reduction in the available workforce.”
Leary said the agency was working quickly to hire operators and fill vacancies, and would start restoring service to regular levels “as soon as possible.”
The transport agency said it could work to ramp up service faster if additional staff show up and report their vaccination status in the days and weeks ahead. Unvaccinated employees with a valid vaccine exemption will be allowed to continue working, he noted.
“I strongly support our vaccination policy,” Leary said. “It’s the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities we serve. “
Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, said the agency did not have specific figures on the staff shortage it expected, but that “it could be hundreds that we need to fill.”
“That’s why we’re increasing hires, bringing back interested retirees and rolling back closures to redeploy operators,” Green said in an email.
To date, 88% of the agency’s 15,090 active employees have shared their COVID-19 vaccination status and the “vast majority” are already fully vaccinated, the TTC said.
The TTC ridership is around 50% of pre-pandemic levels, the agency noted.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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