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TTC to temporarily lay off 1,200 employees due to coronavirus pandemic

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm EDT

A TTC sign is seen lit up at night in an undated photo. CITYNEWS/Dilshad Burman CITYNEWS/Dilshad Burman

 

The TTC announced Thursday that it is implementing a number of cost saving measures made necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic, including temporarily laying off about 1,200 employees.

The layoffs will include up to 1,000 transit operators and 200 non-union staff members.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said all impacted employees will continue to receive benefits through the fall.

Transit services will still be maintained at roughly 70 to 80 per cent of regular levels which the TTC says is in line with current demand.

 

TTC CEO Rick Leary said ridership has dropped by 85 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transit provider has lost $90 million in monthly revenue.

“It’s pretty much become impossible to ignore the financial impact COVID-19 has had to the TTC,” Leary explained.

“A little over two-thirds of our revenue comes from the fare box and at this point now our ridership is down 85 per cent and that 15 per cent just cannot sustain the cost of operating the organization.”

Because of the massive loss of revenue, the TTC said other expenses like overtime will be reduced, seasonal hiring will be halted and salary increases for non-unionized employees will be paused. All non-essential capital projects will also be delayed.

Leary called the decision “one of the toughest things I’ve had to do,” and said the layoffs were a “last resort.”

“These people did nothing wrong. These are good, hardworking individuals and this is a temporary layoff,” he said.

Along with other savings on utilities, fuel and PRESTO commission costs, the TTC says these cuts will lead to a savings of up to $25 million every month.

The president of ATU Local 113, the union that represents TTC workers, says they deserve better.

“This is the ‘thank you’ our members get for sacrificing themselves day in and day out for putting their families and themselves at risk,” Carlos Santos said in a release. “No doubt, this feels like a punch to the gut after all the hard work our members are doing to keep Toronto moving throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”

He added that cuts will lead to further service reduction and overcrowding, which will have a direct impact on essential and low-income workers.

Santos called on the provincial and federal government to “step up” and provide emergency relief funding for the TTC and said he will “take the fight” to the municipal, provincial and federal governments “to ensure the TTC gets the emergency funding it needs to maintain service levels to prevent these layoffs and protect essential workers during this crisis.”

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