< Browse more articles

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau responded this month to concerns raised by the OWMA about the potential for increased incidents of drug-impairment in the workplace and behind the wheel once Marijuana is legalized.

His response, on Feb. 2, 2017, notes that the legalization of cannabis will have a “significant impact on driving” and that the Canadian government is “examining ways to reduce those impacts” before legislation is tabled this year to clear the way for the legalized use and sale of Marijuana across the country.

The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, which was chaired by former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, released the results of its report in December last year to provide the federal government with more than 80 recommendations related to the legalization of Marijuana. (Take a look at the CBC’s summary of the report for a good overview.)

Unfortunately, Garneau says, the results “do not appear to address cannabis use and issues related to employment,” adding that “more details may be forthcoming when the federal legislation is presented and the provinces and territories develop their regulatory frameworks.”

There are, however, several efforts being undertaken at the federal level to address the issue of drug-impaired driving.

Drug impaired driving

First, Private Member’s Bill S-230, The Drug Impaired Driving Detection Act, has been passed through the Senate and is now making its way through the legislative process in the House of Commons.

Second, Minister Garneau reported that the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science is studying the accuracy of roadside testing devices for drug impairment, as well as approval standards for testing devices to be used by police officers.

Third, the federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together on a road safety strategy called “Towards Zero: The safest roads in the world.” This strategy also includes a Drug Driving Strategy that broadly addresses the issue of drug-impaired driving.

Fourth, Garneau says “changes to the Criminal Code are being considered by the Coordinating Committee of Senior Justice Officials, which comprises members from Justice Canada, Transport Canada, Public Safety Canada and the provincial and territorial governments.”

Although the Criminal Code is the responsibility of the federal government, provinces and territories can move forward with “administrative sanctions” on their own, which could include roadside suspensions for impaired drivers.

The OWMA will continue to work with policymakers to ensure that employers’ concerns about the potential for an increase in employee drug-impairment at work and on the road are properly addressed.  For more information on this issue, please contact Director of Policy Peter Hargreave at phargreave@owma.org.