London

New policy says city employees should not show up for work impaired by marijuana

The city of London has decided not to impose onerous restrictions on the use of recreational cannabis by its employees, including firefighters, while they are off-duty.

The policy does not restrict off-duty marijuana use by firefighters or other city employees

The City of London has decided not to impose onerous restrictions on the use of recreational cannabis by its employees, including firefighters, while they are off-duty.

The new substance use policy was created in September and communicated to employees this week — a week before recreational pot consumption becomes legal.

The city will consider cannabis as being similar to alcohol and prescription drugs, and employees have been instructed not to report for work if they are under the influence of any substance.

"Our policy is not structured with an hours-prior-to-shift that you shouldn't be taking a substance. It strictly outlines that you should not be impaired coming into our workplace," said Gary Bridge, a human resources manager with the city.

The new rules affect all city employees, including firefighters. It also applies to volunteers, students on placements and contractors hired by the city.

"At this point (firefighters) are considered City of London employees and fall under this policy. So we're treating them all the same," said Bridge.

Separate policy for police

The London Police Service is developing its own policy on cannabis use by employees, and police spokesperson Sandasha Bough said it is "currently in its final approval stages."

Toronto police officers have been banned from using recreational marijuana within 28 days of reporting for duty.

Bridge said there is a procedure in the new policy for dealing with a city employee who appears to be impaired on the job. He said the response depends on the state of impairment.

The steps could include sending the employee to a medical facility, providing them with safe transportation home or putting them in a safe location. Further action could be taken based on an investigation into the alleged substance abuse.

Bridge said a draft version of the new policy was shared with the unions representing city employees in early September, and he said the feedback was positive, "recognizing the safety of all workers and the importance of keeping all workers safe."