Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads fear of a ‘disaster’
The City of Toronto has announced its plans to have 500 more public transit workers return to the work force by the end of the year.
The city announced it would add 200 more TTC fare collector positions and 400 customer service positions for the TTC, which includes 100 police officers.
Those were part of the city’s overall transit workers’ return to work plan that the city issued this summer in response to the federal government’s Canada Strong labour action plan, which the city launched in July. The plan proposed 700 new transit workers at a total cost of $300 million.
The city plans to take the same approach to the new Ontario Disability Support Program. Officials say that while the agency is responsible for the program’s $200 million operating budget, it is a provincial agency that requires the city to provide its entire staff.
In October, the city’s transit workers union called on the province not to expand its role to fund the program.
The province’s Ontario government said it will cover 50 per cent of the program’s operating budget, and that Toronto’s transit workers will be required to cover their wage insurance costs.
But if workers don’t step up to cover health insurance costs, or if they leave to join another union, Toronto said the budget will have to be cut back.
In a statement, the city said it is working on a plan to return transit workers to full-time work and protect the funding needed by the province for the transit workers’ insurance program.
Toronto Transit Commission employees will now have to make up the shortfall in the city’s transit plan budget to the province.
“The city is working with the province and TTC officials to develop a plan to return TTC employees to full-time work,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
“We will be making sure that any savings made by returning more TTC workers to full-time work will be used to protect the province and ensure the safety of our transit system moving forward.”
On Friday, the union told city hall in a letter obtained by the Toronto Sun that it would be “unacceptable to