coronavirus ttc

TTC workers want to start wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus

The president of ATU Local 113, the main TTC workers' union, is calling on the transit agency to increase health precautions for employees in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, including allowing them to wear face masks. 

As it currently stands, TTC and Metrolinx employees are prohibited from wearing them. 

"ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos is calling on the TTC to allow workers to protect themselves by wearing masks on the job," reads a statement from union.

"The TTC should focus less on public perception and more on public health."

In a blog post published March 6 explaining Metrolinx's COVID-19 measures, the agency said they've implemented enhanced cleaning measures on vehicles and that they're prepared to take additional measures and precautions if public health officials determine them to be necessary. 

"The World Health Organization has also published advice on the use of masks in the context of the COVID19 outbreak, and reports wearing medical masks when not mandated may 'create a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices. Furthermore, using a mask incorrectly may hamper its effectiveness to reduce the risk of transmission,'" the post states. 

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told Globe and Mail reporter Oliver Moore that masks aren't always that effective and can send a negative message.

"It does give the impression to the public that the risk is higher than it is, and so that’s not something, that impression, we want to give to our customers," she said.

Concerns about the coronavirus spreading through Toronto transit are particularly high following the news that a confirmed coronavirus patient rode a GO bus on February 26 and another confirmed patient rode the TTC for three consecutive days before being diagnosed last week. 

"Transit workers have the right to protect their health in the same way countless TTC riders do by wearing masks on subways, streetcars and buses," the union's statement continues.

"ATU Local 113 will back members 110% if they need to protect themselves by wearing a mask at work."

Lead photo by

Orion V


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