The Dope On Marijuana At Work: Canada

Article by Claire E. Milton

On July 1, 2018, the possession of marijuana, referred to as cannabis in the legislation will become legal in Canada. Not a day goes by without a news story about how the provinces are scrambling to decide how to best implement a distribution system for the lawful sale and use of cannabis products.

Employers should fully understand laws applicable to both medical and recreational cannabis, and should more than likely be reviewing and modifying internal policies to address the changing landscape. If you do not already have an internal policy in place that addresses the use of both prescribed and recreational drugs in the workplace, then the legalization of recreational cannabis is an opportunity for you to put something in place.

The Law

There is much confusion about what is legal in Canada when it comes to cannabis. Canadians are saturated with news from the United States, most of which has no application to Canadians and their employers. So, let’s start with understanding what is legal today, and what will change on July 1, 2018.

Prescribed medical marijuana is already legal in Canada. Individuals who have a medical need and the authorization of their health-care practitioner can access cannabis in three ways: (i) registering to grow their own medical marijuana, (ii) designating a registered grower, or (iii) buying from a Health Canada-approved licensed producer. In each case, the production and distribution of medical cannabis are strictly regulated. This regime and ongoing access to medical cannabis will not change under the new legislation.

As of July 1, 2018, adults who are at least 18 years of age will be able to possess up to 30 grams of dry or fresh cannabis, share that amount with other adults, and buy dry cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer. Adults will also be permitted to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use. This law encompasses strict rules around selling to minors and driving while impaired. Much like they do with the sale of alcoholic beverages, individual provinces, territories, and municipalities will be able to set higher minimum ages and individual laws regarding distribution and retail sales rules.

Employer Policies

What does this mean for employers? If your workplace does not already have an internal policy on drug and alcohol use, it is time to put one in place. Recreational marijuana usage at work should be treated like any other controlled substance, such as alcohol. If you already have a policy, it should be clarified to ensure that employees understand that the legalization of recreational marijuana does not change anything when it comes to the workplace. Employers are responsible for the safety of employees, and they have a right to enforce a zero-tolerance policy against intoxication or impairment at work.

A good policy establishes:

  • the priority of a safe workplace;
  • the shared responsibility for acceptable conduct;
  • the consequences of non-compliance;
  • the communication protocol for employees needing information or answers to questions.

Employers can outline disciplinary actions and grounds for termination in cases where employees violate the policy.

The use of medical cannabis must be accommodated by employers if the employee demonstrates that he or she is compliant with the laws applicable to its use, and if the accommodation can be implemented without causing either undue hardship or untenable safety issues. Accommodation of an underlying disability for which cannabis has been prescribed must be managed just like any other medical need or disability. This could mean allowing employees to take breaks to vaporize their medicine or a change in their responsibilities to accommodate the medical condition.

Your policy should, therefore, include a specific section on medicinal cannabis, outlining what medical proof will be required and what conditions may be applicable to accommodation. Employers who have not accommodated medical cannabis have already found themselves before the law.

In the case of Wilson vs. Transparent Glazing Systems, glazier Gregory Wilson held a cannabis prescription for back pain and migraines but was fired after someone complained about him being impaired on the job. Wilson alleged discrimination based on disability and his use of medication. The company countered that he was incompetent and fired for poor performance.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal agreed with the company’s assessment of his work but sided with Wilson. The Tribunal criticized Transparent Glazing for not dealing properly with Wilson’s poor performance and noted that the company only acted once they received a complaint about Wilson’s impairment. At no point did Transparent Glazing discuss Wilson’s performance issues or the effect his disability might have had on those issues with him, which made the termination discriminatory.

Although it is a U.S. case, in a July 2017 decision from the top court in Massachusetts, a woman who was fired for testing positive for marijuana obtained with a legal prescription was allowed to sue her former employer for disability discrimination.


Different industries, demographics of your workforce and your workplace culture will mean that there is no standard template for an effective policy. The different challenges and individual cultures need to be addressed in a policy that is crafted specifically for your workplace. However, this summary provides basic ideas that should be incorporated into any policy.

As Canadians become accustomed to a society that accepts recreational marijuana, employers will no longer be able to ignore the issue. As with many other circumstances, employers who deal with marijuana at work in an open and informed manner will be better prepared for the questions and situations that will inevitably arise.


Since writing this article, the following decision was issued by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Guidance from the highest court in the land for employers managing addiction issues in safety sensitive workplaces

On June 15, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada issued an important judgment that will help employers balance their obligations under human rights law to not discriminate and under occupational health and safety law to keep everyone safe in the workplace.

Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30 is a must read for employers. This case has been working its way to the top of our judicial system, beginning with a decision of the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, which held that Stewart was terminated for breaching his employer’s policy that required him to disclose any drug dependence or addiction issues before any drug-related incident occurred. If an employee disclosed, they would be offered treatment assistance. If they failed to disclose and were involved in an incident and tested positive for drugs, they would be terminated – a policy dubbed the “no free accident” rule. Stewart was a cocaine user. He used only on days off but did not tell his employer that he was using drugs. His loader was involved in an accident; he tested positive for drugs and then Stewart disclosed that he was addicted to cocaine.

The employer fired him, and through his union representative, Stewart argued that he was terminated due to his addiction, which was discriminatory under the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. The Tribunal’s decision in favour of the employer was affirmed first by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, then by the Alberta Court of Appeal, and now by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The workplace in this case was a mine, a dangerous work site. The policy requiring disclosure of drug dependence or addiction issues was based on the primary objective of maintaining a safe environment by encouraging employees with substance abuse problems to come forward and obtain treatment before their problems compromised safety. The Tribunal concluded that Stewart had the capacity to comply with the policy and that he would have been fired for non-disclosure, whether he was an addict with a disability or a “casual user”. The Supreme Court therefore agreed that there was no discrimination, and that the decision to terminate was not based on the addiction, but on the failure to disclose in accordance with the policy. This decision should give employers operating safety sensitive workplaces assurance that they can take a firm stand on zero-tolerance for substance abuse.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Cities in the GTA top the list, and within Toronto, neighbourhoods in Scarborough are the most expensive.

Read more

How to prepare your yard for a safe and spooky Halloween

Excerpted article was Written by Stephanie Fereiro | Economical

Halloween is just around the corner. Whether you’re going for a simple setup of cobwebs and cornstalks or building a haunted graveyard on your front lawn, taking a little extra care while you do it will not only help your decorations stay put, but it could also help you prevent a liability claim (which could come up if one of your visitors tripped on a topsy-turvy tombstone, for example). Consider these tips as you prepare your property for All Hallows’ Eve.

Decorating your yard before Halloween

  • Beware of tripping hazards. Keep in mind that many of your trick-or-treaters will likely be wearing masks, which could limit their visibility and make it tougher for them to make their way to your front door. Make sure your decorations and any electrical cords are placed away from your main walkways and stairs to prevent trips, and check that your steps and railings are in good repair.
  • Secure your skeletons. When hanging or placing decorations outside your home, secure them carefully so they don’t blow away or come loose and fall onto your walkways. This includes decorations that are placed on your lawn and your porch (like foam tombstones or scarecrows, for example).
  • Follow the directions. If any of your decorations came with instructions, be sure to read them carefully — and follow them. (E.g., string lights may say they’re intended for indoor use only. If that’s the case, only use them indoors, as using them outdoors may be dangerous.)
  • Go for fog. If you’re looking to create a spooky, foggy atmosphere, consider using a fog machine instead of dry ice, as dry ice can cause burns when touched. If you must use dry ice, be sure to keep it out of reach of visitors.

Last-minute to-dos for Halloween night

  • Light it up. If you’re planning on handing out treats, leave your outdoor lights on (and be sure to replace any burnt-out bulbs) so trick-or-treaters know you’re home and can see a clear path as they make their way to your door.
  • Don’t play with fire. Consider using no-flame battery operated candles to light up your jack-o’-lanterns. If you’d prefer to use real candles, place them in an area that will be out of reach for children and dogs, keep them away from wooden surfaces and flammable decorations, and don’t leave them unattended. If you’re using any string lights or decorations that require electricity, inspect the wires ahead of time to ensure they’re in good condition and don’t overload your circuits, as this could lead to a fire.
  • Keep your pets contained. Make sure your cats and dogs are in a secure area where they won’t be able to sneak out when you open the door for trick-or-treaters. Not only could your pet scare those little goblins, but he could also get spooked by all those costumes and run off — or into a busy street.

These are just a few ways to prepare for a safe and spook-tacular Halloween. Once you’ve decorated your yard, remember to design safe costumes for the kiddos and map out a route for your trick-or-treating trekif you’re planning on heading out for the night.

How to prepare your yard for a safe and spooky Halloween

Check out these top 10 tips from FOCA related to seasonal cottage closing:

Check out these top 10 tips from FOCA related to seasonal cottage closing:

  • Leave no valuables at the cottage – electronics, personal items, tools etc. – unless you’re prepared to lose them.
  • Sporting goods – fishing rods & equipment, water skis, toys etc – if they’re not secured (locked up, hidden or both) don’t expect them to be there next spring.
  • If you are leaving vehicles, make sure they’re winterized, secure and disabled – for snow machines, remove track and hide keys, ensure boats are covered and locked, outboard motors locked and slightly disassembled. ATVs disabled – leave nothing on trailers unless it is locked or disabled. Remember – “Lock it or Lose it!”
  • Secure your cottage windows and doors – close window curtains or blinds and put up shutters to protect interior from marauders (animals and human).
  • Pack up and take home all alcohol.
  • Do not leave firearms or weapons at the cottage.
  • Marking your personal items can make it difficult for thieves to resell stolen goods, and will make it easier for your items to be identified and returned if found. Record the serial numbers of anything of value left behind.
  • Make a list of the property you are leaving at the cottage, and also a list of the property that will return to your cottage on your first or next trip there.
  • Identify who is your cottage property key holder for alarms, thefts, weather damage or animal problems; their contact info numbers; are they paid to check your cottage regularly or are they friends/neighbours? Your insurance company may give you a deduction if you have one.
  • Know your local OPP Detachment (1-888-310-1122) that patrols your cottage community.


Please share this information with other waterfront property owners!

Las Vegas attack leaves costly wake for uninsured Canadian victims

By Ian Bickis


CALGARY _ Hudson Mack says he doesn’t know the cost of his Victoria-based son’s intensive medical care after being shot Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, only that he’s sure it’s already  “catastrophic.”

Like many who make a short trip to the United States, his 21-year-old son Sheldon didn’t buy travel health insurance before crossing the border, and is now facing the potential of a staggering medical bill after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history left him with gunshot wounds that required major surgery.

“It’s a lesson to Canadians to not cross the border without coverage,” said Mack.

Thanks to a patchwork of funds for victims of violent crime, however, Mack says at least they might not have to worry about the hospital bills, on top of the emotional toll the family is facing.

“Emotionally, it’s been hellish,” Mack said.  ‘We didn’t know what we were going to find when we got down here. So this has been terrible for Sheldon, a horrible thing for him, and a very difficult thing for us.”

He said he’s been told Nevada has a fund for victims of violent crime who don’t have insurance, while the FBI’s mass casualty unit may help him get Sheldon home, which he’s hoping will happen as soon as this weekend.

The Canadian consulate is also helping, with the potential to tap into a government program that provides financial assistance for Canadians victimized abroad, though the program is capped at $10,000 and doesn’t cover lost wages.

Friends have also set up an online crowdfunding page at GoFundMe to help with Sheldon’s recovery, as have friends of several other Canadians injured in the attack.

Mack said he’s not sure he would have set up the account on his own, but that it’s good to see people want to help.

“There’ll be a need for that money down the road because there’s going to be counselling and ongoing emotional support that Sheldon and the others are going to need after this.”

Money is also being raised online for Ryan Sarrazin of Camrose, Alta., who, according to a GoFundMe page started by Tamara Johnson, was “seriously injured” after being shot at the concert.

“This fund is to assist medical and travel expenses for Ryan and his family,” she said on the funding page, which has already surpassed the original goal of $50,000 and is nearing the $75,000 mark.

In a statement posted on the page, Sarrazin’s family thanked those who have supported them, while asking for privacy going forward.

“The Sarrazin and Moore families would like to extend our sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for all the contributions to the GoFundMe page as well as all the prayers and well wishes we have received.”

Braden Matejka from Lake Country, B.C., has also started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $25,000, saying on the page that the money will help cover his required time off work and other recovery costs after being shot in the back of the head.

Victims may also find help from a general GoFundMe campaign started by Las Vegas’s county, which has already raised more than US$9 million, though it does not specify how much, if any, will go to Canadians.

Canadian travel health insurance policies generally have at least a million dollars of coverage, said Will McAleer, president of Canada’s Travel Health Insurance Association.

Once contacted, insurance companies will contact next of kin, co-ordinate with doctors and hospitals and manage care and flights home, so it’s important to have insurance, and your insurance card ready.

However, Canadians shouldn’t expect much support from their provincial coverage, where the daily coverage ranges from between $50 and $400 depending on the province, McAleer added.

“The amounts that you’d be paid for under a provincial medical plan are certainly insignificant, they’re almost non-existent.”

He said intensive medial care for an emergency such as a critical gunshot wound can cost upwards of $10,000 a hour as teams of specialists go into action.

“For significant emergencies, it’s not even a fraction of the coverage.”


Fire Prevention Week, October 8-14, 2017 – Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”

During National Fire Prevention Week, October 8 – 14, 2017 attention is focused on promoting fire safety and prevention, however we should practice fire safety all year long. Many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fireproof their home.

Smoke and fire spread fast. There’s no time to figure out how to escape AFTER a fire starts. That’s why it is so important that everyone has working smoke alarms in their home and that they practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in their household BEFORE there’s a fire.

Fire departments are encouraged to use the following resources to help raise public awareness of the importance of developing and practicing a home fire escape plan.

Many bedroom fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, careless use of candles, smoking in bed, and children playing with matches and lighters.

Most potential hazards can be addressed with a little common sense. For example, be sure to keep flammable items like bedding, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from portable heaters or lit candles, and never smoke in bed. Also, items like appliances or electric blankets should not be operated if they have frayed power cords, and electrical outlets should never be overloaded.

Fire Safety Checklist:

In a fire, you may have just seconds to safely escape your home. Be prepared in advance with these simple steps for home fire escape planning:

  • Assess the needs of everyone in your home
    Identify anyone who requires assistance to get out of the home safely, such as small children or older adults.
  • Make sure that you have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas
    Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • Identify all possible exits ( doors and windows ) and make sure they work
    Know two ways out of all areas, if possible.
  • Everyone must know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds
    Assign someone to help those who need assistance.
    Identify a safe meeting place outside.
    Call the fire department from outside the home – from a neighbour’s home or a cell phone.
  • Practice your home fire escape plan at least twice a year
    Have everyone participate.
    Make changes to your plan if necessary.


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