Pubdate: Tue, 27 Nov 2012
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2012 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Dave Werlin
Page 17


Re: "Test cases; Canada doesn't have much experience with random 
on-the-job drug and alcohol testing. That may be about to change," the 
Journal, Nov. 24.

Ed Secondiak, president of ECS Services, which has designed
drug-testing programs, says that test results "are kept under lock and
key with limited access, and never shared with outside agencies
without the employee's permission."

That is simply untrue. Having served many years on the Employment
Insurance Board of Referees, I can assure you that since random drug
testing became common, notably in oil-sands operations, numerous
workers have been disqualified from receiving EI benefits because
their employers have informed the Employment Insurance Commission,
without the employees' permission, that they were dismissed because of
a positive random drug test.

Secondiak also said employees' rights are protected because random
drug tests are reviewed by a medical review officer. As a rule, the
medical review officer is a company employee or a security firm
contractor owing allegiance to the company.

While safety on work sites is vitally important, random drug testing
is an unreliable measure. It might result in job loss for a person who
is a casual user of marijuana, not impaired and not a risk to
workplace safety. While marijuana stays in a person's system and can
be detected for up to 30 days, other more addictive drugs, such as
cocaine, can go undetected.

Random drug testing violates workers' rights, their privacy and
dignity, and it fails the safety test. Further, it is used as a
smokescreen and is a poor substitute for serious corporate measures
and government actions to improve workplace safety in Alberta.

Dave Werlin, Edmonton
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