Pubdate: Wed, 29 Oct 2014
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2014 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Geoffrey Morgan
Page: FP2


"A more rigorous screening mechanism makes you a less attractive
employer," said Eric Adams, University of Alberta associate professor
of labour and employment law. "Given that their Number One need is to
hire and retain workers, I think there's an incentive to provide less
front-end screening."

According to Petroleum Human Resources Council executive director
Carla Campbell-Ott, there are more than 300 types of jobs available to
a combination of skilled workers and labourers in the oil fields.

The wider energy sector, she says, is growing from its 2012 total
direct employment level of 195,000 people to an expected 235,000 by

Reached for comment Tuesday, the RCMP could not provide information on
where Zehaf-Bibeau was working in the province, nor for how long or
what kind of oil field work he was doing.

Zehaf-Bibeau was addicted to crack cocaine and had been convicted of
drug possession and robbery in British Columbia - those are surefire
ways to destroy any chances of working at a company in Alberta's oil
patch. At major producers, drug screening is standard, with the
largest oil sands company, Suncor Energy Inc., currently locked in a
legal battle over its attempt to implement random drug testing at its

Other oil sands mine operators - including Suncor Energy Inc.,
Syncrude Canada Ltd., Shell Canada Ltd. and Canadian Natural Resources
Ltd. - use drug-sniffing dogs to perform random sweeps of their
operations and camps, firing any worker caught with narcotics.

In addition, the largest oil field services companies - firms that
drill, frack and build the infrastructure for the production of oil
and gas - require applicants to pass a drug and alcohol test before
they're hired. They also perform driving-history checks, as workers
are expected to operate company vehicles.

Fewer companies, however, require criminal background checks, a
process that would have flagged Zehaf-Bibeau as a problem. "It's not a
common screening process," said Mark Sholz, president of the Canadian
Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

Mr. Sholz added his member companies in general perform interviews,
reference checks, drug tests that screen for up to 12 narcotics,
fitness tests and safety training before workers are hired onto a rig.

However, drug and security screening is not mandated at the industry
association levels and is not standardized across all companies, Mr.
Sholz said.

Mr. Adams said the number of employers in the energy sector "is in the

"My sense is that there are many, many kinds of occupations - like
elsewhere in the employment sector - where you would not be required
to pass a pre-employment drug test."

The smallest companies in the oil field service sector, Mr. Adams
said, are generally at the bottom of the food chain. These firms need
to compete with larger firms that get first choice of the top
candidates in the job market.
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MAP posted-by: Matt