The Conference Board of Canada surveyed 163 employers following the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada last year to see how prepared they were for the legalization. Some of their findings have been released in a lead up to the Cannabis @ Work conference in October 2019. 

The results confirmed that 68% of organizations felt that they were prepared for legalization. They updated alcohol and drug policies as well as fit-for-duty policies and believed their safety-conscious culture would mitigate potential risks. They also clearly defined the consequences of infractions.  

The approaches that some employers have taken continue to reflect the uncertainty and caution that prevailed prior to legalization. Some safety-sensitive organizations have banned cannabis altogether. However, Canadian organizations still face challenges.

  • Workplace accommodations – Employers have a duty to accommodate employee’s disabilities, including the need to use medication at work. However, this applies only to medicinal cannabis. Employers need to balance safety interests with their obligation to accommodate employees.
  • Laws around drug testing – Drug testing in Canadian workplaces is a legally sensitive area – especially around employer’s human rights obligations and privacy concerns. Some types of drug testing are more common in safety-sensitive organizations, random testing can only be justified in specific circumstances.
  • Employee education – What should employers provide to employees about the use, misuse, and abuse of cannabis? Prohibition laws have stunted research and organizations are unclear about what they should be responsible for. Only 32% of organizations offer educational materials to their employees and most rely on Employee Assistance Programs or online resources. 

From this survey, it is clear that there is plenty of room for growth when it comes to understanding interactions between legal cannabis and employers in Canada. 

Source: Conference Board of Canada