Metrolinx broadens focus to support staff vaccination in pandemic response

Since January 2020, Metrolinx has updated the public on actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, including any new efforts implemented to keep everyone safe and been transparent about the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s the latest.

This week, Metrolinx had 17 additional staff across a variety of work locations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area test positive for COVID-19. There has also been an increased number of contractors testing positive.

As Metrolinx has done throughout the pandemic, management continues to work with local public health units to report any outbreaks and to assist with contact tracing.

Two men stand on a platform.
Two employees at the Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility stand outside to get some fresh air and discuss work happening inside one of the preventative maintenance bays. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

The total number of Metrolinx staff testing positive is now 125 out of more than 4,300 employees. Of the total number of Metrolinx staff who tested positive, more than 90 per cent contracted the virus outside the workplace and do not appear to have had close contact with customers.

The Incident Command Team has broadened its focus these past few months to include vaccination to eliminate any potential barriers for staff getting vaccinated. These efforts include education and information to ensure staff are aware when they are eligible and addressing any questions or concerns – including sharing staff testimonials about being vaccinated.

Staff are also supported with paid time off to get vaccinated. 

Since the pandemic began, Metrolinx has implemented more than 40 permanent safety actions which has helped keep case levels within critical frontline transit staff low. As the variants cause an alarming increase in cases across the province, Metrolinx has expanded safety measures such as issuing medical masks for staff and implementing rapid testing in high risk locations to ensure everyone continues to stay safe until vaccination rates are higher.

While the daily rise in the numbers of people getting vaccinated – many Metrolinx staff are signing up as they become eligible – gives reason for hope, there is a long way to go before this pandemic comes to an end. The stress after all these long difficult months is becoming increasingly evident amongst both customers and staff and the negative impact on mental health is sadly unmistakeable.

To help as much as possible, Metrolinx has developed resources and supports for employees as they navigate through this challenging time. And it is important that everyone take care of their mental health.

For customers travelling for essential reasons, they are taking comfort in knowing all of the safety actions implemented during the pandemic to keep customers and staff safe remain in place including the protective barriers between seats on buses and trains and superior air filtration. Vehicles and stations will continue receiving additional deep cleaning, hand sanitizer on vehicles and in stations will be replenished regularly, and staff will continue to wear PPE. 

Stay safe and focused on the basics from public health:

  • Stay home if ill or potentially exposed to COVID-19; get tested if experiencing symptoms and consider getting vaccinated. Check eligibility 
  • Only travel for essential purposes during stay-at-home order
  • Even if vaccinated, continue to wear a face covering (Check out the Metrolinx PPE dispensers and branded masks)
  • Wash hands regularly, use hand sanitizer and keep a safe distance from others
  • Download the COVID Alert App

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media.