The owner of a Saskatoon mining company says it’s getting tougher to find good workers after nearly all recent applicants failed a routine drug screening.All applicants had the required equipment training and some even had sales experience or university education for the lucrative positions, most of which paid between $30 and $45 per hour. But over a 10-day period last month, 22 of 26 people who wanted a job with Xtreme Mining and Demolition failed the drug test, said owner Leonard Banga.
“I was surprised, for sure. That’s way higher than it’s ever been,” Banga said.
Most of the failures — 17 of them — were for cocaine rather than “softer” drugs like marijuana. Marijuana was detected in one sample and amphetamines in another. Two other samples detected agents attempting to mask illicit drug use, and one man attempted to give a sample by hiding a bag of urine and a tube under his armpit.
The tests shouldn’t have been a surprise, Banga said. The explanation of pre-employment drug testing is on the application form, and prospective workers are given 48 hours notice.
“I guess they knew they were getting tested and still decided to do coke. It really makes me think,” Banga said.
Banga used to see the occasional failure, and it was almost always young, single men. The recent failures included a number of much older men with families.
“Imagine coming home and telling your wife why you didn’t get this job? They all want to blame the system, but they should take a look in the mirror,” he said.
“I can’t let someone like that work for me. They could hurt themselves or someone around them.”
Banga said there aren’t many jobs in Saskatoon that pay so well and require only a few months of training — a high school diploma isn’t even required. He said those willing to work on the northern Canadian sites can earn up to $65 per hour.
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