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Substance Use Policy

About the policy

Substance use

Substance use can impact the workplace in several ways. Misuse of alcohol or drugs may have serious adverse effects on an employee’s health, safety, and job performance.

The City of Calgary has a Substance Use Policy to help protect and promote the health and safety of our employees and the public. It outlines the guidelines and responsibilities around:

  • appropriate and inappropriate use of alcohol and/or drugs;
  • responsibilities and expectations of employees and leaders; and,
  • processes and procedures that provide employees with a substance use problem the opportunity to get well.

As City employees, we deserve the same concern, trust, respect and caring attitude that we use with citizens every day. Awareness, education, early detection and treatment of substance use problems support a safe, healthy and productive workplace. We place a priority on identification, treatment, successful recovery and re-entry into the workplace for employees that have a substance use problem.

Comply with the policy by:

  • Report fit for work and remain fit for work at all times while on City of Calgary business.
  • Inform your supervisor immediately if you are unable to safely and efficiently perform your duties due to the consumption of alcohol or legal or illegal drugs.
  • Assume responsibility for substance dependency and seek professional assistance.
  • Notify your supervisor if you are taking prescription medication that may impact your ability to safely and effectively perform your job.
  • Have a valid provincial operator's licence of the correct class for the vehicle/equipment you operate and a valid City of Calgary operator's permit if your job requires operation of a City vehicle or equipment.

Actions that conflict with the policy:

  • Be under any degree of influence from intoxicating, hallucinogenic, or mind altering substances if you a hold safety sensitive position
  • Use any substance prior to or during a scheduled work shift that could impair your ability to safely and /or efficiently perform their duties. If use of a prescribed substance during your shift is required as part of a physician’s recommended treatment, immediately inform your supervisor prior to the start of your shift, so that we can explore possible accommodation options.
  • Possess, distribute, offer or sell illegal or legal substances at the workplace.
  • Allow your off-duty conduct to negatively impact The City’s reputation.
  • Disregard a 24-hr driving suspension, even if it happens while you are off work. You must notify your employer of any driving suspensions, if you require a City of Calgary operator’s permit for your job.

Policy download

Download the full policy below.


Case study and Frequently Asked Questions

Click to expand the following case study.

Case study

My doctor has prescribed a new medication for a medical condition I have. One of the side effects of this medication is that it makes me feel quite sleepy, especially when I haven’t eaten for a while. As a City Bus Operator, I am required to be “on my toes” and alert while driving a City vehicle in heavy traffic and interacting with citizens using the transit system.

What is your general responsibility as an employee? Employees must:

  1. arrive at work on time,
  2. be in a condition fit for work and,
  3. remain fit for work at all times while on City business.
Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I've been prescribed medication and/or am taking over-the-counter medications?

An employee in a safety sensitive position who is prescribed medication OR who is taking over the counter drugs needs to be aware of the potential side effects, particularly if this is a new medication for the employee.

Speak with your prescribing doctor, or your pharmacist, or a Corporate Health Consultant about your job, possible side effects from the prescription, and potential safe risks related to performing your job while under the influence of the medication.  Always be sure that you are aware of how these products affect you before coming to work.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medication such as cough syrup, and pain or muscle relief products impact people in different ways.  Always be sure that you are aware of how these products affect you before coming to work.  If you have questions as to side effects, you can explain your work to your pharmacist and/or contact a Corporate Health Consultant.

What are my responsibilities about the use of medication (or any other substance) before or during the work day?

You must inform your supervisory immediately if you are unable to safely and effectively perform your duties due to the consumption of alcohol or legal or illegal drugs. If you are unsure as to your fitness for work, always talk to your supervisor immediately.  Your supervisor will likely contact a Corporate Health Consultant for guidance.

Is it against corporate policy to have a drink at lunch on a workday?

The City doesn’t have a corporate policy prohibiting drinking at lunch; however, some business units do prohibit it.  As a result, having a single drink at lunch may be okay for some people who aren’t in those areas or are in a safety sensitive job. It is not okay for those safety-sensitive positions to have a drink while at work. If you don’t know the rules for your area, ask your supervisor.

What about my privacy? What information does the City get to know?

Employees who are taking medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) AND who are in a safety sensitive position must advise their leader of potential side-effects.

Policy resources

  1. Download: Substance Use Policy
  2. Download: Policy tip sheet
  3. Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
  4. Contact a Corporate Health Consultant to discuss your concerns and connect you to the available resources.
  5. Alberta Heath Services -Addictions and Substance Abuse Services provides a variety of counselling services, such as alcohol, other drug, tobacco and problem-gambling information, support and referral services.
  6. Speak to your Business Advisory Services HR Business Partner

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