Information

Get updates on changes to City services and closures.

View COVID-19 info and support

Substance Use Policy

Substance Use Policy

Laws around cannabis have changed. Not expectations to remain fit for work.

Quick links:


About the policy


As a public service organization, we have a unique responsibility to protect the health and safety of ourselves, the people we work with and the public with whom we interact.

It is our individual responsibility to report in a condition fit for work, perform our duties to the best of our ability and present ourselves as positive ambassadors for The City of Calgary.

Substance use in the workplace may have serious adverse effects on an employee’s health, safety and job performance, as well as create potential risks for co-workers and/or the public.

The policy outlines:

  • Guidelines and responsibilities around appropriate and inappropriate use of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Responsibilities and expectations of employees and leaders.
  • Processes that provide employees with a substance use problem the opportunity to get well.

Complying with the policy:

  • Report 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 effectively perform your duties due to the consumption of alcohol, legal or illegal drugs.
  • Assume responsibility for substance dependency and seek professional assistance.
  • If use of a prescribed substance during your shift is required and it could impact your fitness for work, inform your supervisor so accommodation options can be explored.
  • If you operate a City vehicle / equipment, inform your leader immediately if your provincial operator’s licence is suspended for any duration as a result of substance use.

Policy download


Download the full policy.

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, pharmacist, or a Corporate Health Consultant about your job, possible side effects from the prescription, and potential safety 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 (myCity link).

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, legal or illegal drugs. If you are unsure whether you are fit for work, always talk to your supervisor immediately. Your supervisor will likely contact a Corporate Health Consultant (myCity link) 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 aren't in a safety sensitive job. It is not okay for employees in safety-sensitive positions to have a drink while at work. If you don’t know the rules for your area, ask your supervisor.

After cannabis is legalized, will I be able to use it on my breaks?

​No, because it may affect your fitness for work. This is the same as the guidelines around the use of alcohol or medication (e.g. over-the-counter muscle relaxants or prescribed pain medications including medical cannabis) which are also legal but are considered mind/mood altering medication impacting your fitness for work.

The laws around recreational cannabis may change but our expectations around your fitness for work have not. Even in your office role, you still need to maintain your fitness for work to effectively perform your job.

It’s up to you to know the impact and duration of any substances you take and ensure you are fit to work even in a non-safety sensitive role.
There are videos and information on the Government of Canada website on cannabis use that you might find helpful.

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. Your leader does not need to know what the medication is, or the reason you are taking it. 

The leader does have a right to know whether you are taking something that could impact your fitness for work, your safety or the safety of others.

For more information, refer to the Ask the Code section and the new cannabis edition.

Policy resources