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Drug tests more frequent at U.S.-based companies

By Hempology | April 12, 2006

A University of Victoria survey of the controversial practice of workplace drug testing shows the practice is most frequent in Canadian companies that have their head office in the United States.
While Canada debates decriminalization of marijuana, in contrast to the American war on drugs, the survey found provinces with the highest percentage of firms with a U.S. head office B.C. and Alberta also had the top levels of drug testing of employees.

This despite what the reports author said is a lack of evidence of testing necessity or efficacy.
A lot of U.S conglomerates coming up to Canada … are trying to adopt the same policies, but the laws are different here, said Dr. Scott Macdonald, assistant director of research at the universitys Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. In order to have drug testing (in Canada), it has to be reasonably related to the requirements of the work.
Conducted in 2003, the first national survey questioned 565 human resources managers responsible for at least 100 employees about their drug testing policies, if any.
The survey discovered 10 per cent of the firms overall had drug testing, with the highest provincial rate in Alberta at 25 per cent. B.C. was second at 17.9 per cent and Ontario the lowest at 4.6 per cent.
Macdonald found U.S.-run firms were twice as likely 18.2 per cent to 9.2 per cent to impose testing as those headquartered elsewhere.
Safety-sensitive sectors such as transportation, resource extraction and construction were the most common worksites for drug tests.
However, a major Canadian investigative agency, the Transportation Safety Board, has not detected any recreational drug-accident link.
We havent found a single accident where the causal factors were alcohol- or drug-related, said the TSBs Jim Harris in literally thousands of investigations. That would go back about 15 years in marine, rail, pipeline and aviation, the four modes in which we investigate.
Its a viewpoint Macdonald said is supported by the research.
Drug testing programs are more ideological than evidence-based, he said.

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