A federal court judge granted a stay requested by the Society and other unions that at least temporarily stops the pre-placement and random drug and alcohol testing of nuclear workers that was slated to begin under Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulations. The January 21 ruling means these types of testing will not occur at least until the court has made its final decision in the case, and then only if the court upholds the new testing requirements.
The stay was won as part of a judicial review file by nuclear workers’ representatives that challenges constitutionality of the CNSC requirement for pre-placement and random drug and alcohol testing. The lawyers representing Society members and other nuclear workers argue that the testing regime is contrary to labour arbitration caselaw, and violates sections 7 (life, liberty and security of the person), 8 (search and seizure) and 15 (equality) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A full hearing will be held on the judicial review application this summer.
The Society is also pursuing grievances that challenge Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power for going beyond the CNSC regulation and unreasonably infringing on nuclear workers’ rights.
With the stay in place and arbitration underway on the OPG and Bruce Power Locals’ grievances, drug and alcohol testing is only permitted on for-cause reasonable grounds, post-incident, and as part of return-to-duty or follow-up testing.
The Society’s position is that the current fitness for duty regime is effective, and likely more effective than moving to random drug and alcohol testing. Random testing is highly invasive, lacks specificity in determining fitness for duty at the moment a test is conducted, and infringes on members’ rights to safely and legally enjoy their time away from work.