(Canadian OH&S News)
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has launched a new internal whistleblower program to help tackle fraud and theft within its ranks.
The one-year pilot project, simply called Integrity, was launched on July 22 at a cost of $33,000. It allows TTC workers to anonymously phone or email any concerns of wrongdoing to Clearview Strategic Partners, a third party that has been contracted to run the program, said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.
While the majority of TTC employees are law-abiding, “every once in a while, we have a few individuals who take it upon themselves to engage in illegal behaviour,” and it puts the whole system in a bad light, Ross said.
For example, in January, eight TTC transit enforcement officers were dismissed and five were arrested and face numerous charges of attempting to obstruct justice and fabricating evidence. The TTC said in a release that the five charged officers submitted false provincial offences tickets to homeless people for infractions such as loitering or trespassing, but the officers in question weren’t actually at the locations where the tickets were issued.
The falsified tickets were never served on the individuals.
With the Integrity program’s online component, a user creates a password to log in and issue a complaint, which gets passed along to TTC investigators. If the transit commission needs more information, officials can follow-up and pose questions to help root out perpetrators, Ross explained. If potential fraud or theft is identified, the police could be involved, but the complainant is never identified.
“It’s in everybody’s best interests. We don’t want to know,” Ross said, adding that he believes the initiative will show the TTC which has an operating budget of about $1.5 billion and 13,000 employees is serious about preventing fraud and theft.
But Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents TTC workers, is not convinced. “My only concern with this new initiative is that it publicly promotes the idea that there is widespread fraud and theft on the part of TTC employees that has yet to be discovered,” Kinnear said in a statement. “There is simply no evidence for this and how this is supposed to improve morale is beyond me.”
While Kinnear said that during his ten years as president of the local he has lost track of how many times he has said that the union does not condone any illegal or unsafe acts by TTC workers, “our members understand that they work in a position of public trust and any alleged violation of that trust is subject to a disciplinary process.”