Pubdate: Wed, 05 Dec 2012
Source: Dawson Creek Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Glacier Community Media
Author: William Stodalka


As random drug-testing for oilsands workers is battled out in the 
courts, local employees are not likely to have to undergo that level 
of intrusion.

Currently, Suncor in court to put in place randomized drug tests for 
its Fort McMurray operations.

However, Encana, which employs a large number of people in the Peace 
Region, said that it does not plan to institute similar measures in 
this part of the world.

"Encana does not have random drug testing in place and we have no 
current plans to implement it," wrote Doug McIntyre, a spokesman for Encana.

Encana spokesman Doug McIntyre said that his company is "one of the 
largest" employers in Dawson Creek. They also operate facilities in 
Farmington, Tomslake and Pouce Coupe.

Some Encana employees and their contractors are asked to submit to drug tests.

"In particular, we expect every contractor to establish its own 
alcohol and drug policy and testing program," according to Encana's 
website. "Where it is impractical for sole proprietors and other very 
small contractors to establish their own policies and testing 
programs, they will be contractually required to comply with the 
terms of Encana's policy and practices."

Encana said that after a safety incident takes place, workers are 
asked to place drug tests.

Many other companies in the oil and gas sector already ask similar 
expectations from their workers.

Suncor would like to expand upon these types of random drug testing. 
In an October judgment in the Alberta Court of Appeals, it was 
written that Suncor's new policy "would help avoid injuries and even 
death on its industrially organized worker."

It was also written that they face similar levels of intrusion given 
the drug-testing measures they already take.

The documents also state that Justice Jack Watson, who made the 
decision to stay the order to place the injunction to prevent Suncor 
from doing this, that the main impact of these additional policies 
would be deterrence.

The safety measures would only apply to 3,400 union employees working 
on the site, but not the 3,400 employees contracted out by Suncor to 
do their work.

"Suncor says that any single death or injury on a work site is much 
too high a price for what amounts to a 'wait and see' approach not 
suitable to human safety," according to the documents.

However, the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union Local 707 
- - who is currently fighting this case, said that the current drug 
testing policies worked. These includes drug testing when reasonable 
cause is allowed, or after a safety incident. In Suncor's case, drug 
sniffer dogs were also used at site lodgings, according to the documents.

The union also said that the impact on the sense of privacy, personal 
dignity and integrity would be damaged by this test, according to the 

Watson also said that he was not persuaded that this new policy would 
avoid the tragic results that the policy was aimed at stopping.

At the time, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan 
praised the move.

"The evidence suggests that random drug testing can actually make 
things worse by encouraging people to move from soft drugs, like 
marijuana that stay in your system for up to a month, to hard drugs 
like cocaine and crystal meth that are metabolized much more 
quickly," he added.

The legalities of such an issue are one of the reasons that Encana 
does not plan to institute random drug testing, said McIntyre.

"As the recent case illustrated, there are currently a number of 
legal issues regarding random drug testing," he said. "At the same 
time, we are very confident in the policies and procedures that we 
have in place regarding drug testing, and in ensuring safety on our 
work sites and in our operating communities."

Earlier, Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said that he could not 
comment on how drug testing is done, as it is a matter for the human 
resources department.

"Enbridge has an Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Policy that is 
standard and consistent with industry practice," he said. "This 
policy is strictly enforced throughout the company to ensure the 
safety of our employees and operations."

Shell was not available for comment on this issue.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom