Ridout Barron


Human rights concerns lead to no random testing for bus drivers

The forthcoming legalization of cannabis across Canada has raised many questions amongst employers and employees alike. One of the most fierce debates has been over human rights concerns with regard to random testing for the substance. People driving or operating heavy machinery, such as oil workers and bus drivers in Alberta, have been a particular source of debate.

Many people who take public transportation in the city have wondered whether drivers for Calgary Transit and Southland Transportation would be under increased scrutiny once cannabis is legalized next month. Following an extensive review of workplace policies across Calgary, it has been announced that no changes will be made to the protocol for substance testing of bus drivers. The decision is based on the finding that current protocol is adequate and that drivers are already tested for substances as needed.

Currently, the substance-use policy in the City of Calgary requires all bus drivers to undergo drug testing before they are hired. Managers can also request testing for any driver they perceive as being under the influence. There is no random testing at this time, and the review suggested that it was not necessary to add it once cannabis is legalized. The substance tests that managers may request include a screening for THC.

Outside of Alberta, random testing for public transportation drivers has become a source of conflict between unions and cities. In the private sector of the province, energy company Suncor continues to battle courts for the right to randomly test certain employees for marijuana use. Unions and other employee groups are fighting against such testing, citing human rights concerns. Employers and employees who wish to understand their rights and obligations regarding drug testing under Alberta law should speak with a lawyer about their questions and legal options.

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Ridout Barron
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