Canadian employers must evaluate effectiveness of substance misuse policies: report

Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of Canadian organizations have a formal drug and alcohol policy in place, but just 32 per cent evaluate the effectiveness of these policies, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report notes that the topic is an emerging concern for Canadian employers, as substance misuse can be linked to absenteeism, lost productivity, on-the-job accidents and injuries, and workplace violence and harassment.

“To improve the health and well-being of their employees, Canadian organizations should measure the effectiveness of these policies,” said Mary Lou McDonald, the board’s director of workplace health, wellness and safety research, in a news release. “This would allow proper assessments of their actions in dealing with substance misuse issues.”

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Regular assessments of drug policies also allow employers to keep up with best practices and changes in legislation, according to the report, which noted that companies that did conduct evaluations were much more likely than their counterparts to rate these programs as very or extremely effective.

The report found that the top three drug and alcohol programs implemented by Canadian employers are: an employee assistance program, return-to-work support and wellness/health promotion/prevention programs.

And, most employers that responded to the survey take action to support employees who require treatment for a substance use issue rather than using discipline, with only three per cent of respondents indicating they would suspend or dismiss an employee with a substance misuse issue.

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