Cannabis legalization: 61% of Manitoba small business owners concerned it will impact safety in their workplace

CFIB offers small business owners important compliance tools

Winnipeg, October 16, 2018 – On the historic eve of cannabis legalization, small businesses are grappling with a new mess of inconsistent and uneven workplace regulations across the country. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveals that 61 per cent of Manitoba small business owners are concerned the legalization of recreational cannabis will impact safety in their workplace. As a result, the CFIB has developed a series of educational and workplace tools to help employers manage the change.

“Governments had the opportunity to create a clear, modern system for cannabis. Unfortunately, the process of legalization has created more questions than answers for small business owners, on top of everything else, like the federal tax changes and significant changes to labor laws in many provinces,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB’s President. “Small business owners don’t have lawyers or HR specialists on staff, so they need support to prepare for the new reality of legal cannabis. The hundreds of questions we have received on how to address cannabis-related workplace issues provides clear evidence of the uncertainty and need for proper guidance.”

CFIB’s preliminary survey results regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis revealed: 

  • 61% of Manitoba small business owners are concerned the legalization of recreational cannabis will impact safety in their workplace, 30% are not concerned; 
  • 86% of Manitoba small business owners agree that regulations should be changed to include a worker’s obligation to disclose impairment or the ingestion of impairing substances (e.g. recreational cannabis) to their employer, only 12% disagree; 
  • 75% of Manitoba small business owners agree the provincial government should develop tools and guidance to assist employers and employees in meeting their health and safety responsibilities with regard to workplace impairment and recreational cannabis, only 18% disagree;
  • 62% of Manitoba small business owners said they do not know what their rights and responsibilities are as an employer once legalization of recreational cannabis takes effect, 30% said they do know what their rights and responsibilities are. 

With every province, and even some cities, being asked to develop their own set of rules around the control, distribution and consumption of cannabis before the deadline, business owners have had little time and few resources to prepare. Some of the top questions business owners are asking include:

  • Can cannabis be consumed on their premises?
  • What responsibility do they bear if an impaired employee or customer has an accident onsite?
  • Can they ask employees to submit to a drug test if they have safety concerns?

To ensure small businesses are ready, CFIB has created a suite of tools, including a free webinar, a workplace drug and alcohol policy template and an online course for employers and employees on workplace impairment. All of the resources, with the exclusion of the online course, are publicly available at

“It is clear the majority of small business owners have a lot of questions and concerns about the impact legalization of recreational cannabis will have on safety in the workplace,” added Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. As one Manitoba business owner said: “I have major concerns with enforcing no use at work or when on duty... There has been a huge lack of education to the public on what they can and can’t do and the negative impacts it can have. Very poorly rolled out.”

“Nearly 3,000 business owners have taken part in one of our webinars to date,” added Kelly. “They want to be prepared and compliant come October 17. Though governments have so far failed to give them the proper tools, CFIB is here to help them and answer their questions.”

The CFIB 2019 Manitoba Pre-Budget Survey was conducted online from October 10 to October 15, 2018 and is based on a preliminary sample of 174 small business owners from Manitoba. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of plus or minus 7.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

For media enquiries or interviews with Dan Kelly, please contact: Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
647-464-2814 or at 

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba on the provincial findings, please call 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region.