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A coalition of Canadian employer groups is lobbying the federal government to mandate alcohol and drug testing for safety sensitive positions in response to the passage of bills legalizing marijuana in the country and amending the country’s impaired driving regime.
The passage of Bill C-45 (Legalization of Cannabis), which proposed comprehensive legislation and a regulatory framework for cannabis possession, production and distribution, and Bill C-46 (Impaired Driving), which amends the federal criminal code for offenses and procedures relating to drug-impaired driving and enacts new criminal offenses for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration, last week highlight a critical safety risk in Canada – the expected increased use of cannabis in the workplace, according to a statement by the coalition Thursday.
Employers have told the Canadian federal government that alcohol and drug use in workplaces is an existing concern that will be elevated when cannabis is legalized, according to the statement. The few rules that do exist rely almost exclusively on case law interpretation that is “fact-specific, unclear and at times, contradictory,” according to the statement.
"We are seeking a legislated approach as in other jurisdictions," the coalition said. "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."
The coalition is seeking a regulatory framework that would establish clear rules through Canada aimed at preventing workplace alcohol and drug use.
The employer coalition includes the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Construction Association, the Canadian Fuels Association, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Construction Labor Relations – Alberta, FETCO (Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications) and the Railway Association of Canada.
The American Association of Insurance Services, an insurance advisory organization, filed a cannabis businessowners policy in California on Friday that it said was the first of its kind.