Canada’s nuclear regulator updates its drug and alcohol testing requirements  

News release

Ottawa - High-security nuclear sites across Canada, including nuclear power plants, used fuel management facilities and Chalk River Laboratories, will be required to follow updated drug and alcohol testing requirements.

These requirements are outlined in the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC)  regulatory document, REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty, Volume II: Managing Alcohol and Drug Use, Version 3, which was updated based on years of rigorous research, benchmarking and extensive consultation.  

The recent updates include revised drug testing thresholds and approved methods for oral fluid testing and point-of-collection testing. They complement other existing requirements, such as random and pre-placement testing, that ensure facility staff in key roles perform optimally and provide the highest level of safety for all Canadians.

“We are proud to have been the first federal regulator in Canada to require pre-placement and random testing of alcohol and drug use for safety-critical positions,” said Rumina Velshi, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. “Our staff performed extensive research and worked with international and national experts to assemble the best and most recent scientific advice on which to base our latest requirements.”

Depending on the nature of their job, nuclear workers may be tested:

  • Before being hired
  • After an incident has occurred
  • Randomly
  • If a supervisor has cause to believe there is a reason to test (also known as ‘reasonable grounds’)  
  • Follow-up after confirmation of a substance use disorder

The CNSC consulted with a variety of organizations, including unions, licensees, as well as individual Canadians. The nuclear industry has signaled its support for the amendments to the regulatory document.  Details on the public consultation as well as research used to inform the regulatory document is available on CNSC’s website.

For more details, contact the Commission Secretariat at for the Minutes of Meeting reflecting the Commission’s decision, which will be posted on the CNSC website at a later date.

Key facts

  • Fitness for duty refers to workers being physically, physiologically and psychologically capable of competently and safely performing their tasks.   
  • Based on results from a survey conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, 55% of the 73 respondents from Canadian workplaces conduct some form of alcohol and/or drug testing, with 12% of respondents indicating that they perform random testing of safety sensitive positions. 
  • The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Construction Owners Association of Alberta and Construction Opportunities Development Council also have workplace oral fluid drug testing programs. 
  • Canada’s high-security nuclear licensees will need to create and put in place their own plans for drug and alcohol testing within 12 months.
  • Under the CNSC’s requirements, nuclear workers who test positive would be removed from their safety-sensitive duties, undergo a substance abuse evaluation and could only return to safety-sensitive duties if they were found to be fit for duty.

The CNSC regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security and the environment; to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. 

Associated links


Meghan Gerrish
Media Relations
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
613-996-6860 or 1-800-668-5284 

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