Editorial: Oilpatch workers deserve protection ahead of legalized pot

Adding to the many concerns and ambiguities clouding the Trudeau government’s rush to legalize recreational marijuana use in Canada, the energy sector has exposed a significant void in the proposed rollout.

Enform, the oilpatch safety organization funded by industry groups, is justifiably concerned that proposed federal laws tabled in the House of Commons last week do not include regulations on workplace safety.

It’s urging Ottawa and provincial leaders — though the federal cannabis task force — to harmonize labour rules to ban marijuana use in workplaces where safety could be compromised. In Alberta, that would include most oil and gas operations.

“If people in safety-sensitive positions, or safety-sensitive projects or work, are not competent to do the work, a catastrophic event could unfold,” Enform CEO Cameron MacGillivray warned this week.

Buying marijuana for recreational use is expected to be legal by July 2018 under the Liberal plan. The Trudeau government so far appears inclined to pass much of the heavy lifting around legalization — taxation, distribution, advertising and policing, for example — onto the provinces.

Enform’s call for rules to prohibit marijuana use in hazardous workplace environments seems decidedly logical. However, as past efforts to improve workplace safety have proven, common sense does not always win the day.

Attempts by Suncor Energy and other companies to address workplace safety risks through random drug or alcohol testing of employees have encountered repeated legal challenges by unions and others who contend such practices are an invasion of privacy.

Any move to ban marijuana use in the workplace, in the absence of strict government guidelines, would undoubtedly face similar resistance. Such an approach is also made more difficult by the fact drug technology cannot detect impairment caused by marijuana.

Much attention has rightly been paid to how legalized marijuana might make our roads more …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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