Consider workplace safety in legalized marijuana rules, groups urge

WorkSafeBC prohibits workers with any impairments from work that could harm themselves or others

New rules for legalized marijuana need to consider the impact on workplaces and clarify the rights of both employers and employees, say some business groups.

Ottawa has set July 1 as the deadline for regulations to be in place and many provinces and territories are still working to craft legislation, including British Columbia, where a public consultation on legal pot wrapped up this week.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said large and small companies need guidance from the provincial and federal governments on how they should balance employee privacy with safety in the workplace.

“For any employer, what are their rights and responsibilities in the face of an employee who is under the influence of cannabis?” she said.

“How is an employer supposed to be able to deal with that type of situation without compromising their business and their workplace?”

Huberman said the board of trade wants to see the provincial Employment Standards Act amended to specifically address marijuana usage.

The law does not include any provisions on marijuana, although WorkSafeBC regulations prohibit workers with any physical or mental impairments from doing work that could pose harm to themselves or anyone else.

The rules also say employers cannot allow anyone at a workplace to stay if their ability to work is impaired by alcohol, a drug or any other substance that could put anyone in danger.

Those rules apply to workplaces in B.C., but regulations for legalized marijuana should be standardized across the country, Huberman said.

“In every province, in every territory, we want to make sure this is done right,” she said, adding that creating the right rules may take more time than the federal government’s timeline allows.

As business groups express their concerns about looming legalization, unions have been quiet on the issue.

Paul Finch, treasurer for the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union, said the group has submitted recommendations to the province on how and where recreational marijuana should be sold, but the union does not take a position on legalized marijuana in the workplace.

Several other unions declined comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The BC Trucking Association, meanwhile, is asking for a “legalized framework” for random drug and alcohol testing.

“We recognize that there is an increased safety risk due to the possibility of impairment and in order for the public safety risk to be reduced, we think it’s imperative that employers be allowed to randomly drug test workers that are in safety-sensitive positions,” said Louise Yako, the association’s president and CEO.

The issue of workplace drug and alcohol testing has already gone before Canadian courts, including Alberta’s Court of Appeal, which ruled in September that the energy company Suncor could continue testing workers at its sites in the oilsands.

While testing is allowed under some specific circumstances, the rules around random testing are not as clear as they should be, Yako said.

“Given the change in the regulation affecting marijuana, we think that employers should have every tool available to them,” she said.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

Blue bags are out for curbside recyling and blue bins are in

Use your own bin or the one the city gave you, but no more bags, please, except for shredding

Fraser Valley fire departments form ‘strike teams’ to combat wildfires

Boston Bar, Chilliwack River Valley and Popkum departments form strike teams to fight wildfires

RCMP nab prolific car thief in Agassiz after month-long search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Most Read