Resources & Insights

Employer Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis, often referred to as weed, pot or marijuana, is one of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs in the world. And while the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide.

Among other things, the federal law, which has a target implementation date of summer 2018, allows provinces to create specific regulations for marijuana use related to impaired driving and workplace safety. While this may sound simple on paper, a 2017 survey of Human Resources Professionals Association members found that 45 per cent of respondents did not believe their current workplace policies effectively address issues that may arise with the legalization of marijuana.

How Will the Act Affect the Workplace?

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, employers are concerned it will have a direct effect on:

  1. Workplace health and safety
  2. The use of motor vehicles for work purposes
  3. The scope and type of disciplinary procedures
  4. Work performance
  5. Work attendance

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, usage will no doubt increase across the country.

The increase in casual marijuana usage paired with the administrative burden and uncertainty of legalization is new ground for Canadian employers. As such, to adequately prepare, it’s crucial that businesses adopt clear policies on the use of drugs and alcohol to prevent workplace accidents, increases in sick claims and decreases in employee productivity. Now more than ever before, both employers and employees must know how to discuss and deal with marijuana and impairment.

This guide is designed to provide a general background on marijuana use in the workplace, specifically highlighting its uses and health effects, legislative requirements, and employer and employee obligations. This guide should not construed as legal advice, and employers will need to consult with their legal team before implementing workplace policies and procedures related to marijuana and drugs.

Download the Employer’s Guide to Cannabis Legalization today.

Cannabis Act is Now in Effect: What You Need to Know

While the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide as of Oct. 17, 2018. Also known as Bill C-45, this federal law is designed to establish a regulatory framework, particularly as it relates to the production, distribution, sale, cultivation and possession of cannabis across Canada.

Cannabis Act Items of Note

The following are some of the major items of note regarding the Cannabis Act:

  • Usage and growing limits—Those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
  • Criminal offences—The Cannabis Act will ticket individuals who exceed possession limits, enforce up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale, and impose tough new penalties of up to 14 years in jail for those that give or sell marijuana to minors.
  • Provincial involvement—Under the Cannabis Act, the provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, which will be subject to minimum federal requirements. In areas where there is no regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer via secure home delivery.

Recommendations for Employers

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, it will likely have a direct effect on workplace health and safety, the use of motor vehicles for work purposes, the scope and type of disciplinary procedures, work performance and work attendance.

To appropriately respond to the Cannabis Act, employers should consider doing the following:

  1. Review and understand cannabis legislation and guidelines that apply to the provinces in which they operate.
  2. Review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures as needed. Provide copies of these policies to all employees.
  3. Conduct a hazard and job-safety assessment.
  4. Hold training sessions for all employees and managers.
  5. Train management on how to identify signs of impairment and how to respond appropriately.

Addressing substance use and impairment in the workplace is a complex process. Employers are expected to establish policies and procedures for managing impairment and to do so in a confidential and empathic manner. In addition, if accommodations are necessary, employers must work alongside employees and medical professionals to ensure a collaborative, safe and healthy workplace.

This is a lot of responsibility, and it can be difficult to know where to turn to for supplemental information and assistance. In addition to seeking the advice of qualified legal professionals, your insurance broker can be an invaluable resource. Contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services today to learn more.


Ransomware Attacks on the Rise – Are You Covered?

With ransomware attacks on the rise, the role of insurance is becoming more robust. And, although ransomware coverage has been traditionally sublimited within cyber policies, stand-alone cyber policies that cover ransomware are becoming more necessary.

In an attempt to find additional coverage for ransomware, many businesses and carriers have turned to kidnap and ransom (K&R) policies. K&R policies have traditionally been used by organizations to protect their executives, not to protect against ransomware. Because K&R policies were not designed for ransomware, they may only provide a quick fix. K&R policies tend to be less suitable for ransomware than cyber policies and payouts tend to be lower.

Policy Definitions, Terms and Conditions

Since cyber insurance isn’t standardized, organizations should review all policy language with a broker before choosing a plan. Policies can vary significantly in their language and coverage options, so insurance experts recommend policies that—at the very least—provide coverage for extortion demands and payments as well as lost income resulting from an attack.

Organizations should also take a close look at the following definitions, terms and conditions when choosing a policy:

  • Sublimits and deductibles—Most policies set a sublimit for covering ransomware. It is important to review this limit carefully, considering that demands may start on the low side, but can increase quickly. Additionally, since making a ransom payment may make organizations a target for subsequent ransom demands within the policy year, the deductible amount should reflect that risk.
  • Payment terms—Most policies require prior written consent before the insured can pay any ransom. This can result in payment delays and increased demands by the hackers. If an organization pays a ransom in order to resume business, without prior written consent by the insurer, there’s a chance that it may not be reimbursed. Therefore, organizations need to be comfortable with a policy’s terms in order to avoid compromising coverage.
  • Definition of extortion—It is important for organizations to fully understand and agree with their insurance company’s definition of extortion, since the definition dictates the trigger for coverage. For example, although hackers may intend to sell or misuse information, the ransom demand may only involve a countdown timer and demand for money. While the combination of the two may seem like an obvious threat to the insured, a carrier could possibly deny coverage on the basis that there was no explicit threat to sell or misuse information—all because of its unique definition of extortion.

What to Look for in a Policy

Companies should look for ransomware coverage that uses broad terminology and protects against a wide range of threats, including threats to do the following:

  • Access, sell, disclose or misuse data stored on your network, including digital assets.
  • Alter, damage, or destroy software or programs.
  • Introduce malicious software, including viruses and self-propagating code.
  • Impair or restrict access. Look for policies with broad terms like, “threats to disrupt business operations.”
  • Impersonate the insured in order to gather protected information from its clients, also known as pharming or phishing.
  • Use your network to transmit malware.
  • Deface or interfere with your company’s website.

The Importance of Risk Management

Ransomware insurance is most effective when coupled with an effective risk management program, as there are many components in the fight against cyber crime. Risk managers should work with an insurance broker to review all applicable options before choosing cyber coverage.

Contact us today to learn more about available cyber policies and effective risk management techniques to protect your organization from ransomware attacks.

Exciting New Partnership!

We are very excited to announce a partnership that aligns our purpose, vision and values with the ability to gain national strength and stature, all while remaining strongly INDEPENDENT.

Effective May 5, 2017, Megson FitzPatrick partnered with Rogers Insurance Ltd. and the Inowest Group of Companies, out of Calgary, AB, making our combined organization one of the top five largest independent brokerages in Canada.

Our vision has always been to transform and expand Megson FitzPatrick into an even stronger independent broker, where decisions are ALWAYS based on delivering the best customer experience.  This new partnership is committed to our vision, and our clients are now able to benefit from the shared capabilities of each brokerage for more comprehensive expertise and service offerings, in addition to an expanded network of insurers to work with.

Our new partnership expands our reach to 14 offices across the country and over 500 employees.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this partnership, please contact Jay Tuson directly at or 250-940-9029.