Friday, June 5, 2020
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Will Canada Change Drug Policies At Federal Workplaces?

Adult use cannabis is literally one day away in Canada, and with the world not stopping for a collective inhale, federal employers are left with some big questions. Namely, should they continue to screen their employees for drugs or phase out taking urine samples all together.

The government itself didn’t set forth any rules per se, though they did drop a set of general guidelines to follow. The results are that there’s a range of rules surrounding cannabis use in federally-regulated workplaces, which employ 8 percent of Canadian workers. Other places of business will need to look into provincial guidelines.

In a briefing that was given over to the National Post with the stipulation that no names be used, for federal jobs at least, some of the rules aren’t changing at all. For example, for the majority of jobs issued by Transport Canada, you must be “fit for duty” or in other words, able to fly a plane, drive transport trucks, navigate boats and perform other transportation related jobs as they apply.

Federal prison guards and border guards surprisingly only have to wait 24 hours after imbibing before going on duty. Even military employees are able to spark up, just with stipulations as well. It seems that outside of transport, police have it the “roughest,” with a 28 day wait period between them getting lifted and going to work.

It’s not as if working while impaired hasn’t been an issue for decades – and certainly not just for just cannabis, even if the tests seem built to only “catch” pot smokers. For around 260,000 federal public servants, officials said there is no set of rules across government departments, each being responsible for updating its own drug testing policy, even if that means no update at all. “There are a lot of codes of conduct, for example, that already cover impairment that would include cannabis,” one official explained.

Speaking last Wednesday, a government official said that employers should consider their own real needs around the workplace before implementing a drug-test program. The official pointed out that there are alternatives, like close supervision and frequent face-to-face interactions with employees, both of which help to identify problem areas around impairment.


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