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Fit for duty – no “one size fits all” solution for cannabis testing in the workplace

OTTAWA, September 25, 2019 (Globe Newswire) – Forty-one per cent of organizations have employee alcohol and drug testing protocols in place that are applicable to cannabis. Of these, 91 per cent list fitness for duty—the ability to perform assigned duties without limitations from drug use, fatigue, or other stressors—as a main motivator for testing.


Today’s release of Fit for Duty: Alcohol and Drug Testing in Canadian Workplaces examines alcohol and drug testing in the workplace, the complexity of testing for cannabis, and why there is no “one size fits all” solution.


“Testing for cannabis in the workplace is complex, mainly due to the unclear connection between consumption and level of impairment” says Monica Haberl, senior research associate at The Conference Board of Canada. Additionally, the consequences of impairment vary based on the industry or safety level.


About the report

The report examines the human rights legislation on alcohol and drug testing in the workplace, common testing protocols, and different types of testing. It also looks at how responding organizations define a positive test, steps following a positive test, and established protocols in the event of test refusal.

Key Findings from the report:

  • Cannabis is complex. It is a challenging substance to test for, mainly due to the unclear connection between consumption and level of impairment. To test positive for cannabis means cannabis is present in the body, but it does not necessarily mean the individual is currently impaired.
  • There is no “one size fits all” policy. Ninety-one per cent of employers are motivated by fitness for duty when it comes to why they test. Although there is a common goal, not all workplaces are equal, and as such, consequences of impairment vary based on the industry or safety level.
  • There is no perfect test. Employers should implement the testing method that best reflects their alcohol and drug policy. Forty per cent of organizations have a zero-tolerance policy—suggesting urinalysis testing may be most appropriate. Seventy per cent have a fitness-for-duty policy and may want to consider lab-based oral fluid testing.
  • Alcohol and drug testing should be part of a bigger program. Testing practices should be complemented by resources and support for employees who may have a true substance use disorder, require medical accommodation, or need further education.




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Media contact:

Michelle Rozon | Erin R. Brophy

The Conference Board of Canada 


For more information contact

Corporate Communications

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