Pubdate: Sun, 05 Nov 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Gemma Karstens-Smith
Page: A7


VANCOUVER - New rules for legalized marijuana need to consider the
impact on workplaces and clarify the rights of both employers and
employees, say some business groups.

Ottawa has set July 1 as the deadline for regulations to be in place
and many provinces and territories are still working to craft
legislation, including B.C., where a public consultation on legal pot
wrapped up this week.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said large and small
companies need guidance from the provincial and federal governments on
how they should balance employee privacy with safety in the workplace.

"For any employer, what are their rights and responsibilities in the
face of an employee who is under the influence of cannabis?" she said.

"How is an employer supposed to be able to deal with that type of
situation without compromising their business and their workplace?"

Huberman said the board of trade wants to see the provincial
Employment Standards Act amended to specifically address marijuana

The law does not include any provisions on marijuana, although
WorkSafe B.C. regulations prohibit workers with any physical or mental
impairments from doing work that could pose harm to themselves or
anyone else.

The rules also say employers cannot allow anyone at a workplace to
stay if their ability to work is impaired by alcohol, a drug or any
other substance that could put anyone in danger.

Those rules apply to workplaces in B.C., but regulations for legalized
marijuana should be standardized across the country, Huberman said.

"In every province, in every territory, we want to make sure this is
done right," she said, adding that creating the right rules may take
more time than the federal government's timeline allows.

As business groups express their concerns about looming legalization,
unions have been quiet on the issue.

Paul Finch, treasurer for the B.C. Government and Service Employees
Union, said the group has submitted recommendations to the province on
how and where recreational marijuana should be sold, but the union
does not take a position on legalized marijuana in the workplace.

Several other unions declined comment or did not respond to requests
for comment.

The B.C. Trucking Association, meanwhile, is asking for a "legalized
framework" for random drug and alcohol testing.

"We recognize that there is an increased safety risk due to the
possibility of impairment and in order for the public safety risk to
be reduced, we think it's imperative that employers be allowed to
randomly drug test workers that are in safety-sensitive positions,"
said Louise Yako, the association's president and CEO.

The issue of workplace drug and alcohol testing has already gone
before Canadian courts, including Alberta's Court of Appeal, which
ruled in September that the energy company Suncor could continue
testing workers at its sites in the oilsands.

While testing is allowed under some specific circumstances, the rules
around random testing are not as clear as they should be, Yako said.

"Given the change in the regulation affecting marijuana, we think that
employers should have every tool available to them," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt