Pubdate: Sat, 20 May 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Barbara Simpson
Page: A8


Lambton County trains managers as local governments brace for expected

SARNIA - With Canada ready to legalize marijuana by next July, Ontario
municipalities are ablaze with activity prepping for the impacts of
that move - including in the workplace.

Lambton County recently held a training session for its 75 managers
about marijuana and workplace safety. Among the chief municipal
concerns are the potential for workers to believe it's legal for them
to smoke marijuana on municipal property, as well as the potential for
impaired driving if a high worker operates a municipal vehicle.

"All municipalities will have to deal with (marijuana) use at work
like we deal with alcohol and tobacco use," said Lambton's chief
administrator, Ron Van Horne, whose municipality employs as many as
1,300 workers.

But the use of marijuana has more complexity to it than alcohol use,
human resource experts suggest, because medical marijuana - already
legal in Canada - is an increasingly popular treatment for those
suffering chronic pain and other ailments.

In 2015, a City of Calgary heavy equipment operator, removed from his
post after management became aware of his medical marijuana use,
successfully won his case before an arbitration board. It found the
worker had properly informed his supervisors of his medical marijuana
use and there was no evidence he demonstrated signs of addiction or
had used marijuana while at work.

Van Horne said the county will develop workplace policies on use of
marijuana, but he admitted it's a "very difficult issue" - something
being echoed right across the province.

While federal legislation will allow Canadians to sell, buy, possess
and grow marijuana - subject to parameters - each province is expected
to determine its own age of majority, as well as distribution and
retailing laws.

"I think most of (the municipalities) are trying to figure out where
things might land and anticipate," said Pat Vanini, executive director
of the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO).

Human resources officials with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent have
been busy educating themselves through webinars and meetings about the
impact of the proposed legislation.

"We've identified that we'll need to do some updates to our policies,"
said Marianne Fenton, Chatham-Kent's acting chief human resources officer.

The municipality has 2,200 employees, including seasonal workers,
volunteer firefighters, students and contract workers.

"I can assure you municipal governments are going to need some
financial help if they're going to be involved in the policing of
(marijuana), if they're going to be involved in the licensing of it,
if they're going to be involved from a public health perspective,"
Vanini said.

"These cannot become downloaded costs."
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