Halifax transit union questions why drivers aren't getting mass testing after exposures on many routes

With more COVID-19 cases being announced in the Halifax area, transit workers are wondering why a pop-up testing site dedicated to them isn't being set up.

Halifax’s transit union questions why its members aren't getting the same treatment after multiple routes became possible exposure sites.

Its president says drivers who want to get tested have been told do it on their own time, or leave work but they won’t be paid.

"There seems to be a different set of rules for different players," said Ken Wilson, president of ATU Local 508.

An internal memo obtained by CTV News shows public health assured transit workers the risk to operators is low "and due to the low risk of exposure, operators are not required to be tested. However it is recommended."

Transit workers who spoke with CTV News off camera believe they’re getting mixed messages.

"Does a bus driver have a special magic pill that makes them not get COVID-19 because that’s what it seems like we’re being told by the leadership of transit," Wilson said.

A city spokesperson points out they’re following the advice of public health, but if someone was deemed high risk, they would be contacted by public health directly and paid for time off to get the COVID-19 test.

A city spokesperson declined an on-camera interview, but said in a written statement sent by e-mail that "because Halifax Transit does not currently have any known positive cases in our workforce, mobile testing has not been put in place. Should that change, public health will determine if mobile testing is needed."

As for why public health chose to have a site at the Irving Shipyard, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medial officer of health says it's because there is almost 2,000 workers there.

"To do that volume of people, the most logical thing is to bring it, testing, into that large worksite," Strang said.

A pop-up COVID-19 testing site has been established at Halifax Shipyard for employees who work at the shipyard.

It's in response to Thursday’s positive COVID-19 case, the first at Halifax Shipyard.

Employees can take a test starting Saturday at 10 a.m.

It will be available Sunday starting at 9 a.m. as well.