Random tests on the horizon (Editor’s Notes)

Some employers pushing envelope of drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive positions
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/14/2012

Random drug testing of employees is controversial. It’s also complicated in Canada, where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human rights legislation and privacy laws intersect to form a complicated roadblock that might make someone question whether an employer going down that road is “on something.”

But employers, citing concerns over safety, security and productivity, are pushing the envelope, perhaps emboldened by practices in the United States where drug testing, while controversial, has been the accepted norm for decades. In 1986, U.S. president Ronald Reagan signed an executive order that made employee drug testing a government-wide policy, and employers are pretty much free to test with impunity.

On this side of the 49th, however, the legislation isn’t that black-and-white — at least not yet. So, employers are taking baby steps on their own. Last fall, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) approved random drug and alcohol testing for many employees in the wake of a fatal bus accident. The driver was charged with possession of cannabis.