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Founder's Blog

Don’t Leave Home!

“If you’re cold I’ll keep you warm
If you’re low just hold on
‘Cause I will be your safety
Oh don’t leave home”
~ Don’t Leave Home, Dido

During this time of a global pandemic with COVID-19, I encourage and implore you to… PLEASE STAY HOME.

Just today I was reading about a backyard party in Brampton with 20 people and no physical distancing. There is no better way to distance physically than to STAY AT HOME!

To the 75% of Canadians who are not self-isolating for 14 days after returning from vacation abroad I say: ARE YOU DUMBER THAN A FIFTH GRADER? (“75% of returning travellers bypassing mandatory quarantine: Study,” 2020) You are putting your friends, family, and community at risk by not doing the one thing we’re all asking you to do. STAY HOME.

In Brampton, the fine for not physical distancing is between $20K – $100K. In Ontario the OPP advise people could face a fine of $750 for not following public health orders. (“Coronavirus: Provinces say fines, arrests face people who don’t distance, self-isolate,” 2020) Nationally, the penalty is up to a $750,000 and six months in jail.

So let’s be respectful of our neighbours, especially those with compromised immune systems, and stay home when we absolutely do not have to go out, and further, self-isolate if we’ve just returned from a trip outside of Canada. And while you’re staying at home, be sure to support our local merchants! Especially for those that are paying for their employees to stay home should they need to self-isolate.

References

Yuen, J (2020, March 30) 75% of returning travellers bypassing mandatory quarantine: Study, Toronto Sun Retrieved from https://torontosun.com/news/national/75-of-travellers-returing-to-canada-have-visited-a-grocery-story-bypassing-mandatory-quarantine

Valiante, G (2020, March 21) Coronavirus: Provinces say fines, arrests face people who don’t distance, self-isolate, Global News Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/6713438/canada-coronavirus-self-isolation-fines-arrests

This article was written by J2DW CEO Peter V. Tretter and edited by volunteer editor Brandon Amyot.

Categories
Founder's Blog

Consent beyond the Hashtag

Warning: This article is for general purposes only. For specific legal advice please consult your attorney.

Wiktionary defines consent as:

“To express willingness, to give permission.”

In the era of Me Too, so many people seem to have forgotten a basic concept about consent… It’s about more than just sex. What is the best part? It’s also for minors.

Beyond sex

Consent remains integral to our lives. We give consent when we eat a burger at McDonald’s or get an IV at the hospital. Sometimes a formal process is involved such as a parent signing a permission slip for their child to go on a field trip.

Wiktionary defines assault as:

“An act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm.”

A doctor who does surgery on you without your consent is committing assault. As is a nurse who gives you fluids in your IV without consent. Sometimes as in the second case consent is passive. You decide it’s ok and say nothing. Or you’re unconscious and the medical staff have to make that choice for you. The law allows for this.

In Canada, for medical purposes, with a few exceptions, most provinces have not set an age in law at which a minor consents to a medical procedure. The generally accepted age is 16. However, even below that age if a child can be shown to understand what the doctor is saying and the possible consequences of having a medical procedure (or not) their informed consent must, by common law, be obtained.

For an employer, this means they have to tread lightly with all employees, even those below the age of majority. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work in Ontario. They have to consent, no matter what the task is. To do otherwise could risk injury to the employee and a giant fine for the employer. The onus is on the employer to explain the risks to the employee if there are any. Even a paper cut is a risk, albeit a small one.

Every day we encounter situations where we consent or we don’t. We eat that burger or we pick up a hammer and pound in that nail into the board. We balance the risks. However, that does put the onus on the person with the position of power from getting consent. In many cases, that’s the boss.

References

assault. (2019, April 9). Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 17:46, April 19, 2019 from https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=assault&oldid=52322351.

consent. (2019, March 24). Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 16:23, April 19, 2019 from https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=consent&oldid=52097289.

Knight, K. N. (2014, August 5). Consent of Minors to Medical Treatment. Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.siskinds.com/consent-of-minors-to-medical-treatment/.

This article was written by J2DW CEO Peter V. Tretter and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Is addressing Addiction in the Workplace Worthless?

An addiction is a condition where a person engages in the use of a substance or indulges in a type of repeated behaviour. An addiction’s rewarding effects provides an incentive to continuously repeat the behaviour despite serious consequences. Addictions do not only include what people consume, such as drugs or alcohol. Addictions come in many different forms from gambling to seemingly harmless products, such as chocolate. Addictions can include virtually anything. When a person is addicted to something they can become dependent on the addiction to cope with their life.

Workplace morale consists of the emotions, attitudes, satisfaction, and overall outlook of employees during their time in a workplace environment. A portion of effective workplace productivity is thought to be directly related to the morale of the employees. Employees that are happy and positive at work are said to have positive or high employee morale. When someone is consuming drugs or alcohol, it can dramatically change a person’s behaviour, and these negative changes in personality will lower the workplace morale. Workplaces that maintain employees who are negative about their work environment usually have low employee morale.

The effects of workplace addictions can be frustrating, upsetting, and devastating. Substance abusers are more likely to cause injuries, accidents, and even fatalities in the workplace. Health and safety regulations are expected in any workplace and the risks posed by addiction simply cannot be allowed. When employees do not feel safe in their workplace the morale will decrease. Addictions can increase the likelihood of harassment, bullying and other unprofessional behaviours. These inappropriate behaviours will likely cause other employees to feel unsafe in their workplace environment. A drug-free workplace is more likely to be successful at maintaining an accident-free environment and prosper.

Addictions are costly for workplaces and individuals when addictions are left unaddressed. Supporting an employee who is struggling with an addiction can be a huge challenge for many employers. Addictions can make employees less productive. Absenteeism is one of the significant killers of corporate profitability. Many addicted employees lose their jobs and remain unemployed as a result of their addiction. Other employees may end up in jails, prisons, or long-term rehabilitation facilities, which can result in years of lost productivity. Employees find it to be difficult to get themselves back into the workplace after years of unemployment due to substance abuse or various other addictions. Absenteeism costs Canadian workplaces over $16 billion per year. In Canada, drug use and drug abuse is a problem that not only ruins the lives of the users and their families, but also costs workplaces a total of $23 billion dollars or $1,100 per person.

Policies should be developed to address any workplace issues that are associated with addictions. Workplace policies should be clearly defined. Employers must make reasonable accommodation efforts for employees who seek help with addiction, allowing time off for detox or counselling. This approach is recommended for encouraging workplaces to invest in their employees and reduce the total long-term costs related to substance abuse. Voluntary disclosure allows for treatment without risk of being fired and eases the stigma related to addiction. Workplace culture and employee commitment to recovery are critical to reducing substance use affecting the workplace. Policies will be most effective in an environment that discourages substance use but also discourages discrimination, stigma and potential prejudices. When addiction issues are effectively addressed, workplaces will have a better opportunity to be successful.

Sources:
Addiction: A Workplace Depressant?
Canada Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction
Psychology Today

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

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Voices of our Nation

The most boring article on Fire Safety in the Workplace

Fire prevention is an important component of workplace health and safety programs. An effective fire prevention program provides employees with the tools and information needed to work safely, and protect the workplace and employees from the devastation of fire. Human personnel, property, and environmental losses can have a significant negative impact on workplace ‘production, morale, and continued expectations of success. The damage resulting from even a small fire incident can be detrimental to a workplace’s ability to remain in business.

There is specific legislation about fire prevention in the Canadian provinces. There are fourteen jurisdictions in Canada. One federal jurisdiction, ten provincial, and three territorial. Each with occupational health and safety legislation. This legislation outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor, and the worker.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, gives the Government of Ontario the power to make regulations while also setting out the general principles and duties for workplaces. The Ontario Fire Code is a regulation made under the Fire Protection and Protection and Prevention Act, consisting of the minimum requirements for fire safety within workplaces.

The business owner is responsible for complying with the Ontario Fire Code. The Building Code Act is the legislative framework governing the construction, renovation, and uses of workplaces. The purposes of the Ontario Building Code include public health, safety, and fire prevention; although, its primary purpose is the promotion of public safety through the application of building standards. The Ontario Electrical is intended to ensure safety considerations and protections for workplaces keep pace with the new technology and building needs.

All workplace personnel have a role to play in ensuring health and safety requirements are met within the workplace. Workplace assessments can be useful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of employees and employers in a workplace. The reason for fire risk assessments is to keep people safe. By establishing current risks and possible barriers to safety, solutions can be found before an emergency situation occurs. It will be more difficult to develop during a life-threatening fire event, especially when barriers to safety arise.

Analyzing the issues and factors that are creating the current issues in your workplace helps to develop effective solutions to accomplish workplace goals and to allow the workplace to become more successful. Accommodations for employees, if needed, ensure the health and safety of each employee including those persons with disabilities. Workplaces should be responsible for complying with safety regulations and guidelines to ensure a better opportunity for a successful workplace.

Sources:
Canada Acts and Regulations
Fire Safety Procedures For The Workplace
The Effectiveness of Workplace Assessments

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

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Voices of our Nation

Seasonal employment’s effect on employee absenteeism

Employee burnout is considered as when employees have exhausted their physical or emotional strength. Employee burnout generally happens as the result of extended stress or frustration. Stressful jobs, lack of workplace support and resources, along with short deadlines, can all contribute to employee burnout. The seasons of the year can have an effect on the performance level of employees. Burnout can also occur when employees’ have high expectations of themselves or when an employee has stressful personal circumstances. Burned-out employees can be costly in terms of productivity, and if burned-out employees quit, there are costs of replacement searches and job training for workplaces.

Employee burnout cannot always be prevented, but it can be managed. Full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees can each present unique challenges that employers need to address effectively. Workplaces should understand the reasons for the burnout for their employers and employees. Workplace burnout is often still perceived as carrying a stigma, so staff may be reluctant to seek help at an early stage. Employers and employees should work together to find effective solutions to workplace problems such as burnout. A study of Canadian employees found that an increased salary, improving morale and employees being recognized for their accomplishments were the best ways for employers to improve their work satisfaction.

Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or excessive absences from work. Some common causes of absenteeism include burnout, stress, depression, illness, harassment and work related injuries. Frequent employee absences can also have a major effect on workplace finances and workplace morale. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of work days each year, many absences can cause decreased productivity. Seventy-five percent of Canadian employees studied considered the office as the most productive place to get work done. Sixty-eight percent of these Canadians felt that an increase in temperature was a contributing factor to employee burnout. Forty-three percent of Canadians have reported that they are working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t accomplish during an eight-hour day especially during the summer months.

Employers need to understand the laws governing the various types of employment for the different types of employees. Seasonal work has been an important aspect of the Canadian labour market throughout Canada’s history. However, employee performance can still be affected even when employees are only exposed to extreme temperatures for brief periods of time. Employers should be aware that completing certain tasks may be more challenging for disabled or elderly employees and make reasonable accommodations to assist their employees in completing their assigned tasks. Employers also must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

Sources:
Absenteeism: What’s Missing in Canadian Labour?
Business Advantage Canada
Causes of Absenteeism
Causes of Employee Burnout
Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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Voices of our Nation

What you need to know about child labour

Child labour is the regular employment of Canadian children under the age of fifteen or sixteen. Attitudes toward child labour have changed since the late 18th century when it was generally assumed that children should contribute to the family economy from about age seven. Prior to the 19th century, children were often seen as economic assets to families.  By the beginning of the 20th century, most provinces had enacted labour legislation to restrict the employment of children. The employment of people who have not reached the age of adulthood can cause significant workplace issues. Younger employees do have unique skills that can benefit a workplace.  However, it is important that employees understand the Canadian laws that are associated with hiring younger employees.

In Canada, the provinces have established ages of majority for the purpose of determining when a child has the legal capacity to enter into contracts, is able to purchase restricted products, is free of parental control, and can exercise full civil rights. Child welfare and employment are within provincial jurisdiction in the Canadian Constitution, but most of the young worker legislation is created at the provincial level. The minimum age for working in Ontario is fourteen years for most types of work. However, fourteen through seventeen-year-olds are not to be employed during school hours unless they have been excused from school attendance under provisions of Ontario’s Education Act. The legislation governing minimum age for employment, the number of working hours per day and the time of day that a youth may work varies between the provinces and territories. Some provinces require parental permission for a minor to be employed. The Ministry of Labour enforces and promotes the awareness of employment standards, such as minimum wage, hours of work and public holidays. Explore the Ministry of Labour website to learn more about employee rights and employer obligations in Ontario. The legislation also exists to protect minors from working under dangerous or hazardous conditions.

Child labour consists of the employment of minors in any labour industry, particularly when it is illegal or exploitative. Labour shortage is a significant problem in some countries.  Child labour’s main advantage is that compared with employing an adult child labour is remarkably cheap.  Workplace expenses could be driven down by expanding the child workforce. Child labour potentially can teach children to help provide for their family or could be beneficial in earning and saving funds for educational opportunities such as tuition for college later in a child’s life. Child labour also could allow children to develop a  variety of useful skills from a young age.  Child labour is a prevalent driving force in countries such as China and Vietnam.  It is easy to imagine that a wider scope of goods could are manufactured from such regions using child labour.

Child labour risks are rising around the world.  Young workers are still developing their physical, social and mental skills or judgment.  Young workers may find it more challenging to protect themselves from injury, overwork, or abuses than adult workers.  Verbal abuse or sexual abuse can have a detrimental effect on a child’s mental health.  More than two hundred million children today are child labourers worldwide.  An estimated one hundred twenty million child labourers are engaged in hazardous work.  Several countries now consider underage child labour as an unethical practice and a violation of human rights.  The effects of some forms of child labour are traumatic, and the consequences can include long-term health or psychological problems for the children that are involved.

Child labour is still a significant issue that needs to be effectively addressed.  There are many aspects to active child labour that employers might consider. Employers and employees have an interest in maintaining workplace health and safety standards. Laws can change suddenly and employers have a responsibility to understand how these laws affect their workplaces. Workers have the right to know about any potential or real workplace hazards that they may be exposed to. Workplace employers should not treat their employees as slaves, but rather employers must maintain respect for their rights as employees.  Employers also should respect an employee who exhibits proper conduct toward their employees.  Workplaces can operate more successfully when employees are encouraged to communicate their concerns and to provide input to employers or supervisors that cooperatively assists in resolving workplace issues.

Sources:
Child Labour: Canada’s Invisible Crisis
Pros and Cons of Child Labour
Statistics Canada
The Canadian Encyclopedia

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and was edited by both volunteer editors Parul Datta and Peter Tretter

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News Volunteering

Research and Writing Intern – Volunteer Job Posting

Journey to Diversity Workplaces is looking to hire a co-op student/intern to assist in research and essay writing.

There are two positions.

This is an unpaid position and would be ideal for a student wanting to work from home, build a portfolio and gain some great business experience. We try to tailor these positions to the needs of the student and their educational program.

Interns and/or co-op students will be responsible for assigned activities and need to be able to complete assignments with minimal supervision. The student will also be expected to attend any meetings and events.

Qualifications:

  • Self-starter, motivated to succeed and has a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Knowledgeable about area of focus
  • Knowledge in APA style
  • Creativity skills are essential
  • Possess excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team setting
  • Proficient in Libre Office and it’s word/spreadsheet/powerpoint equivalents

Salary: Unpaid
Shift required: 20 – 40 hours per week, flexible hours
Apply by: 12 April 2017
Starting Date: 1 May 2017
Location: Your home office
Each term we accept two (2) successful applicants.

Looking for a different co-op or intern position? Check out our general posting!

Please include a writing sample with your application!

You may apply in confidence via email or via postal mail to:
Peter V. Tretter, President & CEO
Journey to Diversity Workplaces
65 Cedar Point Dr. Suite 164
Barrie, ON L4N 9R3

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – What you need to know!

The Ontario government enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, which set out a clear goal to make Ontario accessible by 2025. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or AODA, aims to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. A barrier is a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people apart. Barriers can take many forms including attitudinal, communication, physical, policy, programmatic, social, and transportation. Standards are the laws that individuals, governments, businesses, non-profits, and public sector organizations must follow in order to become more accessible. A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

The accessibility standards contain a timeline for the implementation of required measures. The standards also help organizations to identify, remove, and prevent barriers in order to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. The start of a new year brings new AODA regulations for 2017. Under the AODA, employees include full-time, part time, seasonal, and contract workers that are being paid wages.

There are AODA requirements already in place, but Ontario workplaces must comply to additional requirements as of January 1st, 2017. An accessibility compliance report confirms that a workplace has met the current accessibility requirements for the AODA. If a workplace does not complete an accessibility compliance report, the business could receive severe punishments which can include substantial financial penalties. Small businesses, consisting of one to nineteen employees, must make public information accessible when asked. These small businesses must make public employment practices accessible, including workplace hiring policies along with retaining and providing career development opportunities to employees. This would include adding a notification in job advertisements and on job postings. Small businesses, consisting of twenty to forty-nine employees, are required to file an Accessibility Compliance Report, before the December 31, 2017 deadline in addition to the requirements to make public employment practices accessible, including workplace hiring policies along with retaining and providing career development opportunities to employees. Large businesses, of fifty or more employees, must make new or redeveloped public spaces accessible, including parking lots, public outdoor paths of travel, service counters, fixed waiting lines and waiting areas with fixed seating. Large businesses are required to also submit an Accessibility Compliance Report by December 31, 2017.

Everyone can benefit when more people with disabilities have access to places, people, and experiences. Ontario benefits daily from the many contributions made by people with disabilities. Improving accessibility is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. People with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada. People with disabilities also represent a large pool of untapped employment potential. When Ontario becomes more accessible to people with disabilities everyone benefits. Greater accessibility will also continue to assist Ontario preparing for the future. As the Canadian population ages, the number of people with disabilities will increase. Seniors and people with disabilities are projected to represent twenty to twenty-five percent of the Canadian recreation, retail, entertainment, workplace and housing marketplaces in the next ten years and beyond.

The AODA is made up of five standards with a standard covering an aspect of daily living. These standards are the customer service, employment, design of public spaces, transportation, information and communication standards. The AODA standards are part of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. The IASR covers accessibility standards in information and communication, employment, transportation and built environment. There are specific deadlines for compliance that will range from 2010 to 2021. AODA standards change annually in an effort to make Ontario more accessible, and additional requirements will be coming in 2018. Organizations are still required to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. Independent contractors are not employees, but their work under a workplace must also be AODA compliant and you may need to train them in the standards. The AODA’s broadest workplace requirements had only applied to large organizations. However, in 2017, the AODA will now require smaller organizations of up to fifty employees to implement a new set of standards.

The customer service standard is intended to make an organization’s customer service operations accessible to disabled people. Accessible customer service is about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs while implementing the best way to help them access goods and services. The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service applies to all organizations that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario and that have one or more employees in Ontario.

The design of public spaces standard covers a variety of public spaces such as exterior sidewalks and walkways, entrances to buildings, outdoor public eating areas and play spaces, accessible parking, waiting areas, and service counters. These standards sets requirements for specific features of public structures that allow for easier access for disabled persons. Considering the needs of disabled people is important from the earliest stages of designing, planning, and constructing public buildings to ensure that Ontario is more accessible for everyone. The built environment standard for public spaces only applies to new construction and planned redevelopments. Accessible public spaces will make it easier for people with disabilities to move through and use the environment.

The transportation standard requires transportation services to prevent and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across the province. Requirements for accessible transportation apply to organizations that offer transportation services to the public or to employees. Organizations providing transportation services are required to establish, implement, maintain, and document accessibility training policies or procedures that are specific to transportation-related duties concerning disabled people.

The information and communication standard helps people with disabilities access sources of information that many of us rely on every day. The main goal of this standard is to promote an inclusive design of information and communication platforms. The information and communication standard specifies requirements to prevent and remove barriers to persons with disabilities when creating, conveying, distributing, obtaining and receiving various information or communication by organizations.

The employment standard requires an organization that is an employer to engage in the identification, removal, and prevention of barriers hindering the full participation in employment of persons with disabilities. The purpose of the employment standard is to integrate accessibility into regular workplace process. The employment standard also requires that an organization have policies and procedures for establishing individual accommodation plans where barriers cannot be removed and shifts the responsibility from the individual, who needs the accommodation, to the person who provides it. This standard should be implemented to ensure that employers provide for accessibility across all stages of the employment cycle.

The AODA requires every employer and employee in Ontario to take training on the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Accessibility Ontario offers AODA training in many different formats and can also customize training to meet the specific training needs of a workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code took effect in 1962, and it was the first Human Rights Code of its kind in Canada. This code prohibits actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area. This law, in Ontario, gives all people equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas. The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age and marital status, family status, disability, public assistance for housing, reprisal, and association. The Code is divided into an introductory section, or “preamble,” followed by seven parts.

Workplaces must be compliant with the AODA standards and new regulations for 2017. Ontario should be a place where everyone has a chance to be successful. An improvement in the accessibility of workplaces could create more job opportunities for disabled people which would significantly benefit Ontario workplaces. Training can be implemented that will allow workplaces to understand these standards. Canada will benefit if everyone has access to places, people, and experiences.

Sources:
Access Ontario
Canadian Society of Association Executives
Employment and Human Rights Law in Canada
Royal Bank of Canada
Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson

Categories
Voices of our Nation

What you don’t know about substance abuse in the Workplace

Substance abuse is the harmful or hazardous use of prescription or illegal drugs for non-medical reasons. The use of drugs cause several physical harms, but these drugs mainly affect the way a person thinks, feels or acts. Abusing drugs can also lead to a physical dependence and addiction. Many workplace substance abuse issue related costs are hidden by general absenteeism or illnesses, an unnoticed lack of productivity, or a reluctance to link substance abuse directly with causes of accidents. Educating employees about the dangers of drug use is the main way to prevent substance abuse. Early intervention workplace programs can reduce substance abuse related issues in the workplace when these programs are implemented effectively.

Alcohol is a socially accepted part of everyday life for most Canadians as almost eighty percent of Canadians consume alcohol. Canadians associate drinking with pleasurable social, community, or workplace events such as festivals, sports or workplace parties. Alcohol and drug abuse among employees and their family members can be an expensive problem for workplaces causing significant issues such as a lost of productivity, absenteeism, injuries, decreased employee morale, an increase in health care costs, legal liabilities and employees’ compensation costs. The cost of drug abuse runs approximately $22 billion per year. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism accounts for $14 billion of this cost and illegal drug use account for the remaining $8 billion.

Risky drinking means drinking at levels that put a person at risk of medical or social problems. Problem drinking means drinking too much and having a medical or social consequence. Alcohol abuse means drinking too much too fast while alcohol dependence is drinking too much too often. At least three million drinking Canadians risk acute illness, such as injury and at least four and half million risk chronic conditions such as liver disease and cancer. Canadian children grow up seeing alcohol in many aspects of their environment and approximately three thousand Canadian children are born with an alcohol abuse syndrome per year. Approximately 47,000 Canadian deaths are linked to substance abuse annually.

Workplaces should recognize that substance use, misuse, abuse and coping strategies can have a significant impact on mental health at work. Addictions and mental health conditions are often related. This is called a concurrent disorder. However, it is often the addiction that first gets noticed, especially in the workplace. Some signs of substance abuse are similar to those caused by increased stress, lack of sleep and physical or mental illness. Employers should look out for warning signs that indicate an employee may be struggling with substance abuse.

Canadian substance abuse laws include the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which is Canada’s federal drug control statute. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act established eight Schedules of controlled substances. Canada’s Drug Strategy is an important policy by the federal government which addresses the harmful effects of substance use and abuse on individuals, families, and communities. The four main components of Canada’s modern drug strategies remain prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. Workplace policies should also address these four components of substance abuse prevention strategies.

Substantial progress has been made in developing prevention programs for adolescent drug abuse. Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program provides $26.3 million annually to support evidence-informed and innovative initiatives across the health promotion continuum for substance use prevention and treatment, targeting a broad range of licit and illicit substances including cannabis and prescription drugs. The well established pattern of onset and progression of substance abuse during adolescence has led to the development of a variety of prevention initiatives for children. The majority of adults with substance abuse problems begin to use substances during their formative years and therefore fewer prevention efforts have focused on adult substance abuse prevention. Preventing early-stage substance use or delaying the onset of use is a goal of many of these prevention programs.

Numerous strategies have been developed to address substance abuse problems when they arise, or to prevent these issues before they become a larger issue. Some of these strategies include workplace policies or programs mandating drug and alcohol testing to both potential hires and existing employees. Workplace prevention programs should include both primary and secondary prevention. Primary prevention aims to keep alcohol problems from developing, and secondary prevention seeks to reduce existing problems. An effective workplace drug program establishes a list of procedures to follow with regard to illegal drug use, such as testing, prevention, and how to handle substance abuse policy violations. Workplace substance programs have a clear benefit to the workplace who implement them. By setting up assistance programs, and encouraging treatment for their employees, employers can have a significant role in reducing the huge negative burden of workplace substance abuse. Addressing substance abuse issues can be costly, but effectively addressing these issues will create a more productive and safe workplace environment.

Sources:
Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse
Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson

Categories
Founder's Blog

Founder’s Video Blog #3 – The Holidays