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Unifor says companies have adequate tools to detect impairment

Last Updated Oct 19, 2018 at 6:02 am MDT

A haul truck carrying a full load drives away from a mining shovel at the Shell Albian Sands oilsands mine near Fort McMurray, Alta., Wednesday, July 9, 2008. A new study shows that Canada's energy sector workforce became larger and more diverse from 2006 to 2016 but remains predominantly the domain of older, white males. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Oilsands workers have expressed concerns now that pot has become legal.

Unifor Lawyer Niki Lundquist said that impairment by cannabis is a unique challenge since there’s no science to back the numbers supplied by the government.

“It’s really a challenge when you’re talking about cannabis particularly because there’s all different kinds of cannabis, it’s metabolized in different ways, the way your body responds to it is going to be dependent on whether it’s use that is occasional or use that is more frequent.”

She said that the lack of science and possibility of false positives creates the opportunity for unnecessary job loss.

Currently, she said there are only four reasons for an employer to request a drug test: observable signs of impairment, post-incident investigation when it can’t attributed to a certain cause, when someone has an acknowledged substance abuse disorder, or if there is an obvious substance problem in the workplace.

When it comes to the fight for random drug testing, Lundquist said that employers already have the tools they need to ensure safety isn’t impacted by cannabis.

Overall, workers won’t see many changes in the workplace since drug testing was already in place.

Will Gibson spokesperson for Syncrude said that drug testing won’t change now that pot has been legalized.

“Syncrude expects every worker to demonstrate their commitment to safety and ensure their off-duty behaviour doesn’t cause them to be unfit for work.”

He said Syncrude will continue to focus on the safety and well-being of everyone on their sites, adding that the company will manage safety risks presented if THC is at a level proven to increase risk or cause performance deficits.