Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Rob Shaw and Cindy E. Harnett, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


VICTORIA -- Forcing employees to take drug tests at work is a
contentious issue, complicated by human rights legislation,
contradictory court rulings and American economic pressure, say
industry representatives and civil liberties experts.

BC Ferries president David Hahn said Wednesday Canada should move to
follow the U.S. in workplace drug testing. Such testing has increased
dramatically in North America over the past 20 years, but chiefly in
the U.S., where 95 per cent of the top Fortune 500 companies have
programs in place.

But in Canada, the situation remains legally and ethically

The federal government's Human Rights Commission prohibits
discrimination on the basis of a disability, which includes drug or
alcohol addiction. It used to clearly oppose pre-employment and random
drug tests. But it is reviewing those policies after recent court
rulings, says its 2006 annual report. The commission has yet to
release new guidelines.

"Testing reveals all kinds of personal information that has nothing to
do with drugs," said Murray Mollard, executive director of the B.C.
Civil Liberties Association. For example, it can disclose a person's
private medical condition or pregnancy, he said. As well, being
watched urinating into a cup is degrading and intrusive, he said.

Canadian courts have sent mixed messages regarding the legality of
drug testing in the workplace.

Alberta courts recently overruled a pre-employment drug test policy by
Kellogg Brown & Root Company after a recreational marijuana user
failed the test and wasn't hired. The case is under appeal.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld Weyerhaeuser's
drug-testing policy last year.

B.C. supports drug testing, Premier Gordon Campbell said Wednesday. As
for BC Ferries, he said: "I think everyone deserves to know that
people are in no way impaired in terms of carrying out their
operational obligations." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake