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Cannabis legalization: demanding tools for employers

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Cannabis consumption is now legal in Canada. The bill’s passage raises a number of questions for employers like you, as it could trigger changes in the habits of cannabis consumers—perhaps even an increase in intoxication in the workplace.

You are legally responsible for addressing cannabis use in your workplace safety policies, so we have asked the government to give you some tools to mitigate the risks!

In the meantime, we have created a suite of Tools for you, including a free webinar, a workplace drug and alcohol policy template and an online course. All of the resources are available here.

Employers need clear and specific powers
Cannabis consumption at work could have serious effects on productivity but even more importantly, on the health and safety of your employees and the public.

At our request, the government made a few changes to its bill to address your concerns: it now stipulates that employees are responsible for remaining alert and unimpaired by cannabis in the workplace for their own safety and that of their colleagues and the public.

However, the bill also stipulates that you are responsible for verifying that your employees’ abilities are not impaired to the point that they pose a risk to themselves, their colleagues or the public. We told the government this is easier said than done: signs of cannabis intoxication are harder to detect than signs of alcohol intoxication, for example.

It is even harder for small businesses to carry out this duty, because many of you have neither a human resources department nor the internal expertise to handle problematic cases. When things go wrong in a small business, the ensuing complications and costs are significant!

We’ll keep fighting to get tools for you!
The provincial government places the burden of ensuring workplace safety on you, and we’ll keep asking it for the tools to do so. Among other things, we are still asking the Quebec government that its legislative framing over the federal government’s legalization of cannabis includes:

  • An employer’s right to remove an employee from the workplace if they have reason to believe that the employee is under the influence of cannabis and poses a risk to themselves or their colleagues.
  • Standard fines and suspensions for employees who show up to work impaired.
  • A provision that employees who injure themselves at work while under the influence of cannabis would not be entitled to the benefits provided for in the Act respecting occupational health and safety, as this is an act of wilful negligence on the part of the employee.

Do you have questions about the upcoming legalization? Call your CFIB counsellor!