Alberta considers random drug testing in construction industry
The proposal is part of a review by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta of its current workplace practices that do not include random drug testing.
Employers and union leaders involved in the review are trying to balance a push for safer work sites with the legal rights of employees.
Bob Blakely, director of Canadian Affairs of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and who sits on the review committee headed by a Syncrude Canada official, said a random drug test policy could work if it followed strict rules.
But he added such testing is bound to end up in the courts and result in complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which takes the position that blanket random testing is discriminatory.
Alcohol and drug testing is already taking place at some Alberta work sites, especially in the energy and construction industries.
Human rights tribunals in Ontario and Alberta have ruled that employers may test workers in safety-sensitive positions or after an accident.
Wally Baer, director of compliance for workplace health and safety in Alberta, said, "We are all awaiting some direction. This is an extraordinarily difficult issue. But we must have some patience as the lawmakers grapple with it as well."