A senior official with the Toronto Transit Commission, who’s temporarily in charge during a leadership change, says it would be unfair if the province stopped workers from using washrooms that TTC passengers use when a problem arises.
Toronto city council on Wednesday passed a motion seeking the province’s support to include TTC workers in a right-to-wipe bill. Mayor John Tory believes the province will support the move.
Some city councillors suggested that the right-to-wash-with-other-people program that doesn’t specifically allow TTC employees to use facilities for private purposes was not fair to employees of the agency. The city’s debate followed a meeting on Wednesday between TTC chair Karen Stintz and ministers the Rick Bartolucci and Sylvia Jones at Queen’s Park.
“I don’t think we should defer to the City,” Stintz said about the vote on Wednesday. “That would be unfair for transit employees who have difficulty accessing facilities. That said, we’re going to continue to negotiate in good faith and I’m hopeful that we’ll work something out,” she said.
Stintz is a strong ally of Tory and expressed some frustration about the opposition’s attempt to block the right-to-wash-with-other-people effort. She said she felt there was “one sidedness in this debate.”
“I think there was a concerted effort by city councillors to make it so that any transit employee who isn’t authorized could not use facilities … it seems like an untenable position, it’s ridiculous,” she said.
The group behind the right-to-wash-with-other-people motion, the Toronto City Pensioners’ Association, is a strong supporter of the mayor and supported his mayoral election campaign last year. The association’s President Eileen Gessle called the right-to-wash effort a “not-so-simple” issue and claimed the TTC’s bargaining position is that when employees need the facilities, they’re only authorized to use toilets for TTC customers.
“It’s a common sense common sense thing. The councillors on the other side… (they’re) trying to push forward one opinion and the mayor isn’t supporting them and obviously the province is letting the TTC operate to the best of their ability,” she said.
Stintz, however, said “people shouldn’t be called on account of who they are.” She said “access to facilities is something you should always be eligible for, certainly when a TTC employee is running to do something like pump for a pregnant passenger.”
She said she was “heartened” by the unanimous support from city council to bring the right-to-wash motion forward on Wednesday. Tory said he’s been working on the right-to-wash-with-other-people issue “since the last election campaign” and is confident the province will support the city’s push.
The right-to-wash motion is part of the TTC’s contracts negotiations and Tory has indicated that if it wasn’t tabled Tuesday, it might have been for a vote today at city council.
The right-to-wash with other-people program was rolled out under the previous administration. It allowed TTC workers to purchase washroom stalls. Riders pay a single charge when the stalls are purchased, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. He said the program expires at the end of June and “should not be a contentious issue.”
The TSSA said it was seeking the right-to-wash motion for all transit employees in Toronto. Stintz said she had not heard about such a request but that the TTC has “probably” been aware of the TSSA’s request.
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