Consider workplace safety in legalized marijuana rules, groups urge

WorkSafeBC prohibits workers with any impairments from work that could harm themselves or others

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 British Columbia, 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 usage.

The law does not include any provisions on marijuana, although WorkSafeBC 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 BC 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.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

marijuana

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Advance polling saw nearly 10,000 votes cast in Vernon-Monashee. Pictured: Schubert Centre. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
BC VOTES 2020: Live results roll in for Vernon-Monashee race

That’s a wrap on voting in the provincial 2020 election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Predator Ridge Resort has announced plans to add a new outdoor skating rink this winter. The facility is expected to open Dec. 7, 2020. (Contributed)
Outdoor skating rink coming to Vernon’s Predator Ridge

The facility is touted as the first private refrigerated skating rink in the Okanagan

West Kelowna Warriors goaltender Roman Basran stood tall in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Vernon Vipers Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
Vernon Vipers fall to West Kelowna Warriors in shootout

Kelowna Rockets goalie Roman Basran helped the warriors to a 4-3 SO win Friday night.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Voters are saying they felt safe voting in person despite the current pandemic. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Central Okanagan voters talk about their pandemic election experience

Despite an election taking place during COVID-19, residents said they felt safe voting in person

Efforts to replace the aging Rutland Middle School have been put off by another year by the ministry of education. (File photo)
Education ministry won’t replace Central Okanagan school anytime soon

New Westside Secondary top priority for ministry of education

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

Most Read