A Case For Drug Testing

Shawnee Love   •  
April 4, 2012

Something must be in the, ahem, air because the questions on drug testing are flying in. Canadian employers are googling drug testing and finding out it is a pretty common practice in the US (and Alberta) and want to implement drug testing in their workplaces.  However, laws and case law in most of Canada are different, and getting Google advice when it comes to this topic is about as safe as driving blindfolded.  You might make it to where you are going, but you are more likely to crash.

Bottom line for Canadian employers is that drug testing is not as simple as peeing in a cup.

However, if you are considering random drug testing or pre-employment drug testing, you may be surprised to find that while there are a lot of rules and case law around it, there is actually no Canadian law that says you cannot do drug testing.  In fact, some industries (e.g., Mining) and some provinces (e.g., Alberta) seem to allow and even encourage drug testing for hazardous workplaces.  Before you pick up and move to Alberta, remember that no matter where you are in the country you will have a fairly solid case for drug testing if your reason is one of these:

  • To prevent serious workplace accidents by minimizing druggies at work,  or
  • To uncover impairment as a contributing factor to an accident or serious near miss, or
  • To minimize drug use in an environment where it is a serious problem with significant negative repercussions.

The key is to ensure you build your policy for the right reasons and very carefully.  More on that in a future blog.