Written by Michael J Weiler

In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper, the Supreme Court of Canada red-flagged the struggle and conflict between safety and privacy rights in a case dealing with the right of an employer to implement random testing for alcohol and drugs.  The SCC majority struck down Irving Pulp’s policy.  The decision of the majority opened with these comments:

Abella J. — Privacy and safety are highly sensitive and significant workplace interests. They are also occasionally in conflict. This is particularly the case when the workplace is a dangerous one.

With the legalization of marijuana, issues of detection and discipline within the workplace will create even more tension between privacy issues and the right to operate your business in a safe and productive manner.

The SCC has stepped in again to comment on privacy issues in the case of R. v. Jarvis.  Although the case is a criminal law case, it raises issues that might well apply to your workplace.

An excellent article by Kelly Nicholson, a partner at Field Law in Alberta, summarizes the Jarvis decision.  I have had a working relationship with Field Law for many years on matters involving Alberta employment and labour law and have found their newsletters to be very insightful.  In many areas, the cases they review have application here in BC.  I am introducing you to this article with thanks to Field Law and the permission of the author and Field Law.

As Kelly Nicholson introduces his article, I repeat here to suggest why you may want to read the article yourself:

“Though it emerges in a criminal law context, the new decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10 is likely to have an impact on future cases that consider the scope of an individual’s privacy interest, whether in the criminal or civil sphere. Articulating a sophisticated understanding of how privacy may remain a reasonable expectation even in a public or semi-public space, the case will no doubt be of interest to employers and other parties whose operations bring into question the line between that information which is personal – to a worker or customer, for example – and that which, in the circumstances, may properly be examined or observed.”


The content in the Michael Weiler Employment + Labour newsletters is for your general information and should not be taken as legal advice.  If you have a specific problem, please contact Michael Weiler to discuss your situation. 

[1] Information made available in the Field Law article linked to this blog post is for informational purposes only. It is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be perceived as legal advice. You must not rely upon this information in making any decision or taking (or choosing not to take) any action. This information does not replace professional legal advice – and must not be used to replace or delay seeking professional legal advice. Any views expressed in the Field Law article linked to this blog post are those of the author and not the law firm of Field LLP. The act of accessing, printing or reading the article linked to this blog post, or publication or downloading any of the content does not create a solicitor-client relationship, and any unsolicited information or communications sent to the authors or Field LLP (by any means) is not protected by solicitor-client privilege.

“Field Law”, the logo and “Because Clarity Matters” are registered trademarks of Field LLP. “Field Law” is a registered trade name of Field LLP.”