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

VIDEO: Antique gun show a big hit in Chilliwack

The annual Historical Arms Antique Show has a huge variety of guns, knives, antiques and more

Gas prices spike in Lower Mainland

Two of B.C.’s major fuel suppliers are undergoing maintenance

Volunteers help with Gwynne Vaughan Park spring cleanup

Warm weather draws gardeners to Gwynne Vaughan Park for annual cleanup

Chilliwack Chiefs behind eight ball after game two loss to Prince George

The Chiefs were way better than they were in game one, but Prince George squeaked out a 3-2 win.

Pro-pipeline convoy rolls through Chilliwack

Hope for Canada was a convoy in support of the Canadian oil and gas industry and against Bill C-69

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Driver dies in fiery crash in Coquitlam

Police say speed was factor in single vehicle collision

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

National Arts Centre spotlights Indigenous and female artists in upcoming season

Other musical offerings include a salute to Canada’s Indigenous composers

Travel expected to be slowed by fallout from fire at Toronto’s Pearson airport

All U.S.-bound flights from Terminal 1 were cancelled Sunday night after the fire broke out near a security checkpoint

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Leivo nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Stars 3-2

Schaller scores first 2 goals of season for Vancouver

UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Scientists analyzed beehives in high density urban areas to those off on Galiano Island

Most Read