Many of you may have read that earlier this year Suncor Energy (Suncor) won a ruling regarding random drug and alcohol testing on-site at their Alberta oilsands sites.[i]
The ruling prompted the representing union, Unifor, Local 707A (Unifor), to appeal to Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
Yesterday, December 07, 2017, Unifor, won an Interim Injunction following their application for an “…Injunction, prohibiting Suncor Energy Inc from implementing a policy of random drug and alcohol testing at its Mine site north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.”[ii]. The Interim Injunction was granted by the Honourable Mr. Justice R. Paul Belzil.
According to an article by John Cotter of The Canadian Press, Suncor and Unifor have been “battling over random drug (and alcohol) tests since 2012”. Both Suncor and Unifor have very strong reasons for wanting/not wanting random drug and alcohol tests. Suncor is very concerned about their employee’s safety, whereas Unifor is concerned about their union member’s privacy.[iii]
In our “Kiy HR Perspective”, we can see where Suncor is concerned. They are looking at being more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to drugs and alcohol on-site. Having a policy on post-incident testing seems very reactive and not very preventative. We can also see where Unifor is concerned, especially when testing does not always tell the whole story (for example, marijuana can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 days). We can see that the lines get blurred when it pertains to protecting an individual’s privacy with respect to their recreational choices at home.
In our opinion, reaching a middle ground is plausible. Where the operation of heavy equipment or the requirement for working longer shifts is concerned, Suncor and Unifor should devise a policy that works for both the safety and the privacy of the employees/union members. Additionally, employees should agree to the terms of the planned drug and alcohol testing in a legal contract.
If you believe your company could benefit from an outsourced Human Resources department or have any questions regarding what Kiy HR offers, feel free to contact us at or phone us at 780-801-5246.
[i] The Canadian Press, Lauren Krugel, September 28, 2017 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/suncor-alcohol-testing-ruling-appeal-1.4312421
[ii] CanLII, 2017 ABQB 752 (CanLII), December 7, 2017 https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2017/2017abqb752/2017abqb752.html
[iii] The Canadian Press, John Cotter, December 8, 2017 https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/alberta-court-grants-unifor-injunction-193422835.html