Pubdate: Tue, 02 May 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: Dan Healing
Page: B3


Oilpatch CEOs fear their costs will rise when the federal government
passes legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.

The issue of drug use is closely watched in the industry, where
workers tend to be young and hazards include long commutes to and from
remote drilling sites, wells that produce poisonous or explosive gas,
and exposure to heavy machinery. Many oil and gas companies have
strict bans on alcohol and drugs at work.

Precision Drilling CEO Kevin Neveu, whose Calgary-based firm operates
in Canada and the United States, says his opposition to legalization
is supported by his company's experiences in Colorado after that state
legalized the drug in 2014. He said costs there have increased for
employees who need drug counselling, or for those who fail drug tests
and must be sent home under Precision's "zero tolerance" drug and
alcohol policy. And it's more difficult to find new recruits, who can
pass pre-employment drug tests, he said.

"We have certainly failed more people in Colorado (for drug use) after
legalization than we did before," he said, though he was unable to
give specific numbers.

"There's a link, there's a cause. Even during the recruitment phase
where we warn them we'll do a test, a surprising number still test

Canada's Liberal government campaigned on a promise to legalize
marijuana for recreational use, arguing prohibition does not prevent
young people from using the drug. It also said too many Canadians end
up with criminal records for possessing small amounts and legalization
would help remove the criminal element linked to the drug.

But Jeff Tonken, CEO of Calgary-based natural gas producer Birchcliff
Energy, agreed with Neveu that employee costs will rise if the
government succeeds in legalizing recreational pot by July 1, 2018.

"It's going to be more costly for us to police the safety of our
people," he said.

He said workers sign an agreement when hired giving permission for
random tests for drugs and alcohol consumption. If someone fails a
test, they must leave the job site, he said, but the company may still
be responsible for paying for substance abuse treatment or covering a
leave of absence.

Matt Pascuzzo, spokesman for Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, said the
government will ensure Canadians' health and safety are protected as
it works with provinces and territories on measures addressing
impairment at work.
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MAP posted-by: Matt