City hurries to fix bug-plagued radio system before adding police and fire


A new multimillion-dollar radio system plagued by bugs is scheduled to be implemented across the City of Ottawa this year, spurring staff to fix the errors before the police and fire departments hit the airwaves.

“We have work to do,” according to Pierre Poirier, head of security and emergency management.

“When we deal with first responder agencies, there’s another level of importance to make sure everything operates as intended.”

The problems with the city’s new radio system go beyond the “leap second” snafu on New Year’s Eve, when workers with OC Transpo and public works lost radio service.

There has been a problem at Transpo in recent months where the radio system crashes when several users switch over to one channel.

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STO not an essential service, board rules as strike looms

As Gatineau’s public transit workers prepare to vote on whether or not to invoke their strike mandate, the Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled Monday that transit is not an essential service.

The Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) had urged the board to rule transit services must be maintained during peak hours in the event of a strike.

The STO argued that a strike would cause traffic to increase, slowing response time for emergency vehicles “to the extent that the health and safety of the public will be in danger,” the decision detailed.

But the board sided with the union, which pointed out that emergency services would be able to use bus lanes to maintain response times in the event of a transit strike.

The union representing public transit workers in Gatineau walked away from labour negotiations with the STO earlier this month after disciplinary measures were imposed on its president, Félix Gendron, and other members of the union.

Members of the Syndicat uni du Transport Local 591 are expected to vote on Wednesday whether or not to go ahead with the strike. The union must give a minimum notice of 72 hours.

In early December 2016, transit workers voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike within 60 days.

The STO is in the process of renewing a collective agreement with 485 drivers and 115 employees responsible for bus maintenance.

​In December 2008, OC Transpo workers went on strike after the Canadian Industrial Relations Board ruled it would not force workers to return to work since transit wasn’t deemed an essential service in Ottawa. Transit service was disrupted for two months as the strike stretched on.

Outaouais transit workers serve 72-hour strike notice

Gatineau public transit users could be forced to look at other means of transportation by week’s end as the union that represents the Quebec region’s public transit workers has given the Outaouais regional bus system a 72-hour strike notice.

The notice comes as the Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled Monday that the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) is not an essential service.

“Yes, the notice has been sent,” said Félix Gendron, the president of the Syndicat uni du transport Local 591, in an email Tuesday.

While the notice clears the way for strike action as early as week’s end, a strike could then be called any time over the next 60 days, when a new strike notice would be required.

Gendron said the union will have more to say publicly after a series of meetings with its members on Wednesday. The last of the meetings is scheduled for 7 p.m., he said.

The STO had argued “that the response time for ambulance services and firefighters will be affected to the extent that the health and safety of the public will be in danger.”

But in a unanimous decision, the CIRB ruled that “the Board is not satisfied that in the event of a strike declared by the union and its members or a lockout declared by the employer, it is necessary to issue an order for the maintenance of certain activities or supply of services to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the health and safety of the public.

In a statement posted on its web site, the STO said it “remains hopeful that it will be able to continue the negotiations in order to reach an agreement that is satisfactory and fair for employees, patrons and taxpayers.”

At the heart of the labour strife are the terms of a collective agreement to replace the contract that expired two years ago.

According to the STO, transportation services for people with disabilities would not be affected
by a possible strike because Paratransit is provided by a subcontractor.

“A mediation meeting is planned for this Friday, Jan. 20,” the STO said.

But Gendron would not say whether the union would be attending the mediation meeting.

The union withdrew from labour negotiations on Jan. 6 “until further notice” after disciplinary measures were imposed on some of its members.

Last month, the union voted last 98 per cent in favour of a strike mandate within 60 days.

Edmonton launches review into ETS safety operations, other departments

Edmonton bus drivers will undergo ride-a-long tests next month as the city begins evaluating safety operations at Edmonton Transit and other departments.

City Manager Linda Cochrane announced Wednesday the city will begin work on a new safety program for staff, starting with Edmonton Transit operators.

She said third-party consultant DuPont Sustainable Solutions will conduct the review.

“We want to signal that we’re prepared to up our game in terms of safety programs,” she said. “We haven’t done something for a long, long time.”

The announcement comes after two people were hit and killed by bus drivers in late 2016. The people killed include 13-year-old Mariama Sillah, in November, and an 83-year-old woman in October. Two bus drivers have been charged as a result of those incidents.

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Expired transfer reportedly prompted attack on ETS bus

More details on an incident that saw an Edmonton Transit Service bus driver injured Friday came to light.

At about 2 p.m. Friday, a bus driver was injured during an incident on a bus in the Castledowns area.

“We believe there was a dispute regarding an expired transfer and that was the basis around the alleged assault,” Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Cheryl Sheppard said.

The head of the union representing ETS workers, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, said the alleged assailant, a passenger, broke a partition near the driver, and used the piece as a weapon.

“He got on the bus and he broke the door of the driver’s compartment, and he, it brok in half and there was a jagged edge and he hit him with that across the face,” Mark Tetterington said.
Tetterington said the driver required 10 to 15 stitches, and he was also punched and bitten in the incident. This level of violence against drivers is rare, Tetterington said, but assaults happen regularly. “I want to say three or four times a month, or more, where an operator is spit on, and I call that assault,” Tetterington said.

Transit officials declined an interview, but said there was surveillance video – video of the assault had been passed on to police.

“It’s very helpful that transit does have surveillance footage that we’re able to look at, of course that helps us progress the investigation a lot further, a lot quicker,” Sheppard said.

Tetterington said the driver was shaken by the incident, and is taking a few days off.

The city is currently reviewing workplace safety, and Tetterington hopes it will help prevent assaults such as this one in the future.

“We can always do more, but the city is being proactive, they’re trying to nip these situations in the bud,” Tetterington said.

Federal, Ontario Liberals sign $1.49B transit funding agreement

The federal government has cracked open its coffers with $1.49 billion in new transit infrastructure money for everything from new transit vehicles to upgraded stations.

The details were announced Tuesday morning by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at a municipal transit garage in Barrie, Ont.

About $500 million of the projects announced this morning will be in Toronto, with Ottawa next on the list at $156 million.
Waterloo, Barrie and Sudbury, where the federal cabinet just wrapped up a two-day retreat, will receive about $30.6 million combined for 20 projects.
In Toronto the money will go toward fixing up bridges, a subway yard upgrade and replacing a fire main at Wilson Yard along with upgrades to buses and streetcars.



Brothers and Sisters this rally is about all workers and the generations to come. Our children and their children.

Please join the Labour Movement as we Rally for Decent Work in Ontario. We are fighting for a $15 minimum wage and an end to precarious part-time employment.

Let’s send a message the Government can’t deny.

ATU Canada Supports Local 615 Saskatoon, #WheresTheFairness Rally

On Behalf of ATU 615 I would like to thank each and everyone of you for participating in this event. You have travelled a long distance and sacrificed your time just to be with us and our members have seen firsthand that we have the ATU family supporting us as well as Saskatchewan Federation of Labor and Saskatoon District Labor Council affiliate locals as well as federal and provincial NDP and candidates for the upcoming civic election.