Pubdate: Mon, 25 Sep 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Page: A7


'Zero tolerance' to remain in place despite legalization, companies

If the repercussions from the legalization of cannabis by next July 1
are already preoccupying certain workplaces, the topic is of
particular interest to areas of work in which health and security
questions are omnipresent, such as construction sites.

"Our rule won't change," said Eric Cote, spokesperson for
l'Association de la construction du Quebec (ACQ). "It will be zero
tolerance for people working with weakened faculties," be they
weakened by alcohol, cannabis or any other substance.

Entrepreneurs have an obligation to worry about security on work
sites, Cote said.

The safety code for construction sites is explicit on this matter, he
emphasized: "The employer is obliged, by law, to ensure that there is
no person with weakened faculties on their work site.

"People with weakened faculties on a construction site increase the
risk of an accident, and can even be the cause of an accident," both
for themselves and for their colleagues, he explained.

Workers, their foremen and the various contractors on a site all have
a role to play, Cote added.

"We don't let people drive a vehicle with weakened faculties," he
said. "Imagine working with construction equipment on sites, equipment
that weighs several tons, operating a crane. At that moment, it
becomes very dangerous on a construction site."

The ACQ makes 24,000 construction site visits per year to help
entrepreneurs conform to the safety code and will continue to do so,
he said.

Meanwhile, at the most important Quebec union in the industry,
FTQ-Construction, general director Yves Ouellet hopes to keep things
in perspective.

"This doesn't mean that on July 2, everyone is going to start smoking
joints on construction sites," he said.

Ouellet compared the cannabis phenomenon to that of alcohol

"Alcohol is legal, and everyone doesn't go down four scotches on their
10-minute break," he said.

Some people do have a problem with overconsumption or addiction, he
allowed. And those people can get help through programs that already

"We're not saying employers should go on a witch hunt and start
testing all their employees for drugs just because pot is being
legalized on July 1," Ouellet said.

"By legalizing cannabis, they're not taking away the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. So there can't be abuse of power on the matter, with
bosses jumping on everyone, wanting to fix certain situations because
that's what they think is going on. We have to be extremely careful
about workers' rights, so that this doesn't become arbitrary."

Nevertheless, FTQ-Construction takes the matter seriously enough to
aim to sensitize its 78,000 members on the topic.

"We ourselves are going to constantly seek to deliver information that
is more pertinent for our members, to explain exactly what this means
and all the implications."
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