With the federal government announcing it will table marijuana legalization legislation on April 10, the Surrey Board of Trade in British Columbia has composed a government advocacy policy that focuses on workplace concerns if legalization goes through.
The major focus of the government’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, released last fall, was on youth, driving and distribution, according to CEO Anita Huberman.
“There was little consideration for workplace concerns or potential solutions for workplaces.”
Three of the government’s recommendations were:
- Facilitate and monitor ongoing research on cannabis and impairment, considering implications for occupational health and safety policies.
- Work with existing federal, provincial and territorial bodies to better understand potential occupational health and safety issues related to cannabis impairment.
- Work with provinces, territories, employers and labour representatives to facilitate the development of workplace impairment policies.
However, it is very difficult for employers and employees to determine what constitutes impairment, or harm to others, or even the extent of accommodation (in the case of medical marijuana) up to point of undue hardship, as indicated in the Canadian Human Rights (Act), said Huberman.
“We need clarification of these terms for the sake of both employers and employees to facilitate good and productive working environments,” she said. “And we need consistency in regulations across Canada to avoid confusion and misunderstandings in applying any accommodations or workplace policies regarding marijuana usage.”
The Surrey Board of Trade’s policy recommends:
1. A regulatory authority be identified that employers and employees can rely on for consistent information, updated regulations and standardized forms and templates that are legally vetted to be sound; and that a regulatory authority take the lead on devising:
- a workable definition of impairment
- a universally applicable checklist that non-medically trained supervisors/managers can use to determine impairment
- a list of types of medical practitioners who are qualified to be signatories on such standardized medical forms.
2. That a regulatory authority so identified work with the federal government to ensure consistency between provincial and federal regulations
3. A standardized medical marijuana or cannabinoid form be devised that would include (but not limited to) the required information as outlined above and the following (insofar as privacy laws apply):
- the frequency of usage in whatever form it takes
- the anticipated impairment, if any, of the employee while taking medical marijuana
- anticipated duration of usage
- acknowledgement by the practitioner of the employee’s occupation and what would be helpful or harmful for that individual AND those they work with up to considerations of potential injury to the individual and others, and
- recommendations of accommodation that do not limit employer determinations, but can provide some guidance and awareness of the disability in question
4. That the three recommendations from the Task Force on Cannabis legalization and Regulation as noted above be strengthened in language substantially to include:
- The authorized agencies identified to be part of the process of identifying occupational health and safety issues and subsequent policies.
- Ensure that businesses and their representative associations, particularly chambers and boards of trade, be part of the process.
- Identify a timeline by which issues and policies are worked by these authorities.
- Ensure that the work is well underway, if not near completion, in conjunction with the implementation of the Federal legislation.
The full policy can be found at https://businessinsurrey.com/policy/workforce-development/.