Suncor Energy's attempt to randomly test thousands of its oilsands workers for drugs and alcohol is back under scrutiny as proceedings began again this week.
Arguments are being heard in a labour arbitration in Calgary, with proceedings between Suncor Energy Inc. and the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers union Local 707 that represents 3,4000 workers, the Globe and Mail reports.
Last November, Alberta's top court dismissed an appeal by Suncor Energy over its plan to randomly test thousands of its oilsands workers for drugs and alcohol.
Justice Jean Cote spoke for the majority at the time, calling Suncor’s plans "a significant breach of worker’s rights," while upholding an injunction that would prohibit the company from testing employees without cause.
New Brunswick's Irving Pulp and Paper is also looking to randomly test employees for alcohol as its mill operations , with the case reaching the Supreme Court of Canada, according to the CBC.
The outcome of these high-profile cases may determine if such testing expands to other workplaces in Canada, CBC adds.
Substance abuse among workers is already a concern in Alberta's oil and gas industry, as workers are exposed to heavy machinery. According to the Globe and Mail, Alberta's courts have been much more likely to allow drug and alcohol testing than in Canada's Eastern and Maritime provinces.
The union argued last year that random testing is an affront to basic human rights, and the Alberta Federation of Labour called the court decision a victory.
“Employers like drug testing programs because they give the impression that something decisive is being done about safety,” Federation president Gil McGowan said in a news release at the time.
“But these programs don’t improve safety. Employers know that, so it’s little more than very expensive public relations.”
Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said that the oilsands giant was disappointed in the court's ruling.
"We know alcohol and drugs are a pressing safety concern at our Wood Buffalo sites and we will present evidence to support this during the arbitration process."
She said three of the seven workers who died while on the job at Suncor's site since 2000 were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
"Our view is one fatality is too many."
The union has agreed to certain types of drug testing in its collective agreement, including pre-employment screening and with-cause drug testing, and says there is no evidence that random drug testing makes workplaces safer.
With files from CP
Also on HuffPost:
Don't Kiss And Tell
Richard Gasquet kissed a girl (and the ATP didn't like it). The French tennis player tested positive for cocaine in 1999, but he denied ingesting the substance...unless it was from that woman he kissed the night before the test. Oh yes, that was what happened. Gasquet was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and his ban was dismissed after it was judged that the amount was small enough to have entered his system in such a manner.
Where's The Beef, Petr Korda?
Nandralone-injected veal was said to be the culprit behind the Czech tennis player's positive test in 1998. Not so fast, said a team of scientists. Unless Korda had been eating 40 calves a day, the amount of the drug in his system could not have come from ingesting the meat.
Tyler Hamilton's Evil Twin
When the American cyclist was found to have someone else's blood inside of him in 2005, the explanation was simple: it must have been his "vanishing twin." Hamilton said he had absorbed a twin in utero and that would account for the foreign blood in his system...34 years after he was born. Hamilton was suspended for two years and in 2010 he admitted to doping during his racing career.
Justin Gatlin's Rubdown Shakedown
A shady masseuse was Gatlin's explanation for how he ended up inadvertently doping. The American sprinter said he thought a cream that was applied to his legs was just that -- turns out it was actually laced with steroids, and he knew nothing about what it contained.
Marion Jones Fell Out Of Love (With Herself)
The American dominated at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but Jones was stripped of two gold medals and three bronze she won in Sydney after it was discovered she had been using steroids. After she was caught, Jones told Oprah Winfrey "I didn't love myself enough" to tell the truth to investigators.
Ben Johnson's Spiked Drink
Even though he's keen to admit in recent TV advertisements that he "Cheetah's all the time," with a brand of ginseng drinks, the disgraced Canadian sprinter was adamant that an American rival spiked his ginseng drink before his win at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
LaShawn Merritt's Expanding Problem.
Between October 2009 and January 2010, American track star LaShawn Merritt failed three drug tests, which his lawyer attributed to the use of "an over-the-counter male enhancement product" by the Olympic champion
Ross Rebagliati Inhaled (Secondhand Smoke)
The Canadian won gold in snowboarding in Nagano in 1998, but tested positive for marijuana afterwards and was stripped of his medal. Rebagliati had it returned after explaining that he was at a party where friends were partaking and it must have been the secondhand contact that led to the failed test.
'Soapy' Paul Edwards
The label could have said 'no more tears,' but for the British shot-putter, it probably should have also said 'no more competitions.' After downing a bottle of the soapy stuff, Edwards blamed the shampoo for a positive drug test in 1994 and resulting lifetime ban.
Dieter Baumann And The Toothpaste Bandit
Somehow, the German bronze medalist 5000-metre runner knew when his positive test came up that it was because someone had spiked his toothpaste with nandralone. Baumann had won the 5000-metre event at the Barcelona Games in 1992 but the positive test in 2000 also came after two failed tests in 1999.