Suncor Energy to start random drug tests in new year

Suncor's base plant with upgraders in the oilsands in Fort McMurray Alta, on Monday June 13, 2017. .
Suncor's base plant with upgraders in the oilsands in Fort McMurray Alta, on Monday June 13, 2017. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Suncor Energy confirmed on Wednesday that it plans to start randomly testing some of its employees for drugs at its northern Alberta worksites in the new year.

“For Suncor, this has always been about safety,” Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal told Global News in an email. “The driver to add random testing to our already comprehensive safety program was so that people went home to their loved ones at the ends of their shifts.”

The testing policy was introduced for people holding safety-sensitive positions with the company over six years ago, spurring the workers’ union — Unifor — to file a grievance, arguing the tests infringe on workers’ privacy.

READ MORE: Court rules in favour of Suncor on random drug testing; union to keep fighting

“A safety-sensitive position is one in which if the decision or actions of their role are not carried out properly, it could result in a serious incident affecting the health or safety of employees, contractors, customers, the public or the environment,” Seetal said. “Employees in designated safety-sensitive positions are aware of their status.”

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An arbitration tribunal allowed the grievance and found the testing to be an unreasonable exercise of management rights. That decision was thrown out by an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruling, sending the matter to a fresh arbitration panel and leading Unifor to appeal.

When the Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the challenge, the union took its grievance to the Supreme Court of Canada, which in June decided it would not hear the case.

READ MORE: Supreme Court will not hear drug testing appeal involving oilsands workers

Seetal said the company has come to an agreement with the union and testing will begin sometime during Suncor’s first-quarter of its new fiscal year. The quarter runs from Jan. 1 to March 31.

“We will communicate the details to employees,” Seetal said.

Global News has reached out to Unifor for comment on the matter. The union represents about 3,000 workers on Suncor sites.

Unifor also represents many workers at Corus Entertainment which is Global News’ parent company.

–With files from The Canadian Press

Watch below: Some Global News videos about random drug tests.

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