Employers’ Coalition Concerned over Cannabis Legalization and Workplace Safety Risk

slips, trips and falls in the workplace
Slips, trips and falls are all too frequent in the workplace

OTTAWA – The passing of Bill C-45 (Legalization of Cannabis) and Bill C-46 (Impaired Driving) highlights a critical safety risk in Canada – the expected increased use of cannabis in the workplace.

To guard against this, a coalition of employers and employer associations from across the country had urged the federal government to legislate alcohol and drug testing for safety-sensitive positions.

Employers have told the government that alcohol and drug use in workplaces is an existing concern that will be elevated when cannabis is legalized (for example, adult usage increased by 71 percent after cannabis was legalized in Colorado). What few rules do exist for dealing with this clear safety risk rely almost exclusively on case law interpretation, that is fact-specific, unclear and, at times, contradictory.

“We are seeking a legislated approach, as in other jurisdictions,” says the coalition. “Our members employ air traffic controllers, pilots, train conductors and crane operators, to name just a few. That no clear rules exist in this space, when the evidence demonstrates cannabis usage is going to increase, is a serious workplace and public safety concern.”

Our coalition calls on the government to implement a regulatory framework for alcohol and drug testing in safety-sensitive positions. This framework would establish clear rules throughout Canada aimed at preventing workplace alcohol and drug use. The government could do this in consultation with all key stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard on this important topic.

Association members of the Employer Coalition include the following:

  • Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
  • Canadian Construction Association
  • Canadian Fuels Association
  • Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • Construction Labour Relations – Alberta
  • FETCO (Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications)
  • Railway Association of Canada
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