Alberta judge quashes decision that ruled against Suncor random drug tests

Oilsands giant Suncor Energy has won the latest round in its push to randomly test thousands of workers for drugs and alcohol in northern Alberta.

EDMONTON — Oilsands giant Suncor Energy has won the latest round in its push to randomly test thousands of workers for drugs and alcohol in northern Alberta.

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge has quashed a 2014 arbitration panel ruling that determined the proposed testing plan would violate the privacy of union workers represented by Unifor.

Justice Blair Nixon said the panel should have considered evidence about alcohol and drug incidents involving all workers at Suncor, including non-union contract employees.

“By focusing only on the bargaining unit, the majority (of the panel) expressly excluded consideration of relevant evidence,” Nixon wrote.

“The majority ignored evidence pertaining to some two-thirds of the individuals working in the oilsands operation.”

Nixon said a new arbitration panel should review the company’s random testing plan, which Suncor first announced in 2012.

Suncor had presented evidence of 2,276 drug and alcohol “security incidents” recorded between 2004 and 2013.

Unifor, which has been challenging the random drug testing proposal, took the position that only 12 of the incidents involved union members.

Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said the company is pleased with Nixon’s ruling. She said random testing aims to protect the safety of the public, workers and the environment.

“What is important for Suncor is really looking at the driver behind our desire to include random testing in our already comprehensive safety program,” she said.

“We wouldn’t be pursuing this if we didn’t feel it was absolutely necessary.”

Unifor spokesman Dave Moffat said the union will appeal the judge’s decision and maintains that random testing violates the basic rights of union members.

“We are disappointed but we will proceed through the system and hope for a satisfactory result,” he said.

“It is important to all Canadians that the randomness of this kind of personal invasion is something that we have to make sure gets vetted through our system and that everybody understands its seriousness and its implications.”

The union, which represents about 3,800 workers at Suncor, said the company already has a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy that includes post-incident and reasonable cause testing.

It said that policy is not affected by the ongoing litigation over the random testing plan.

The court ruling was handed Wednesday as Suncor flew almost 4,000 employees and contract workers from its operations north of Fort McMurray due to the massive wildfire burning in the region.

Seetal said emergency staff remain who are working to protect the site.

“Those remaining are essential personnel,” she said.

“These folks have worked tirelessly to protect people and our assets and we can’t thank them enough for their hard work and diligence.”

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Rural municipalities seek more funding to address cannabis legalization

Not enough supports in Municipal Cannabis Transition Program

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read