HRPA’s election platform suggests further clarity on marijuana rules

In advance of Ontario’s election on June 7, the Human Resources Professionals Association is setting out several recommendations for the province’s political parties, including more clarity around recreational marijuana rules.

In light of the drug’s impending legalization, the HRPA’s election suggestions call for setting a clear legal definition of impairment as well as the grounds under which an employer can test an employee for cannabis use. As well, the organization wants the government work with other provinces to co-ordinate the regulations in order to ensure organizations with a national workforce are able to follow policies and communicate effectively with employees.

Read: Key questions for plan sponsors as marijuana legalization approaches

“The decisions made by the next government will determine our economic future,” said Scott Allinson, vice-president of public affairs at the HRPA, in a news release. “All parties must commit to making our workforce more competitive and make decisions that will both prepare our youth for tomorrow’s workforce and create more well-paying jobs right here in Ontario.”

The recommendations also address the rapid rate of change in Ontario’s economy. It also suggests the continuation of Ontario’s basic income pilot program in light of possible job losses from automation and calls on the province go even further by having a more in-depth discussion on the topic.

The association also wants the province to conduct its own labour market research to project the demand for skills in the future and make changes to those projections on an ongoing basis. “The current federal model takes too long, and the province can do a better job in determining what skilled professions are needed,” the HRPA noted.

Read: Employers, policy-makers urged to rethink future of work

The HRPA noted that in a survey of its members, 41 per cent said entry-level employees at their company over the last year weren’t fully ready for the job as a result of the education they received. Members also felt soft skills like problem solving and attention to detail are missing.

To bridge the gap in soft skills, the association recommends making experiential learning, such as co-operative programs, mandatory for high school students. It also suggests encouraging small- and medium-sized employers to participate in experiential learning programs; overhauling the curriculum to ensure students are gaining skills to succeed in a digital world; and exploring Switzerland’s model for apprenticeship. It provides secondary students with a choice between two high school models, one that prepares them to go to university and another that gives them the opportunity to participate in an apprenticeship program.

Read: Technology, competition raising the bar for hiring requirements: report

The HRPA is also seeking reforms to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to establish a more efficient process for both employers and employees. It recommends the implementation of a system to screen all complaints received by the tribunal in order to decrease the time it takes to begin investigations, as well as a process to identify repeat, unfounded claims more efficiently.

“It’s essential that all workers are treated fairly and in accordance with the Human Rights Code, yet 94 per cent of our members agree that Ontario must implement reforms to better identify repeat and unfounded claims,” said Allinson. “The current system is overburdened and is costing organizations thousands in unnecessary legal fees and these reforms will help address this and ensure claims with merit are quickly addressed.”

Read: Technology to have biggest impact on the future of work: survey

As Ontario’s general election approaches and the nature of the workplace continues to evolve, there are plenty of issues for voters to consider. With some of those issues in mind, which party will be receiving your vote? Have your say in Benefits Canada‘s weekly online poll.

Last week’s question looked at the new defined benefit pension plans introduced by OPSEU Pension Trust and the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology pension plan. In response to whether the approach will help revive defined benefit plans, 73 per cent of respondents agreed, suggesting the new offerings are a great way of making affordable pension coverage more widely available. The remaining 27 per cent disagreed, noting the new offerings aren’t enough to have a material impact on the decline of defined benefit plans.

Read: Have your say: Will new multi-employer schemes revive DB plans?