OTTAWA — American Motors (Canada) became the first of the big four auto manufacturers in Canada to screen job applicants for drug abuse, a company spokesman confirmed today.
Alan McPhee, director of public relations for the company, said in an interview that all hourly and salaried applicants were being required to cooperate in drug screening tests. The process began last week, McPhee said.
American Motors is currently sorting through 63,700 applications for jobs at its $550-million plant in Brampton, Ontario, although McPhee said only finalists for 3,000 positions will be tested for drugs.
The plant, which is not unionized, is scheduled to open next year to build a mid-size passenger car called the Premier to be sold in North America.
American Motors made no official announcement of its drug testing policy. The matter was first raised Tuesday by the left-wing New Democratic Party in Parliament.
McPhee said applicants who refuse to take the test are not automatically rejected.
McPhee said he was unaware if anyone had refused to take the test.
American Motors is a subsidiary of American Motors Corp., which has been doing drug testing in the United States "for some time," he said.
McPhee said the Ontario program was important in order to protect the investment in the new plant by Canadian taxpayers. The Canadian and Ontario governments have contributed $88 million to the operation.
Lorne Nystrom, New Democratic Party member of Parliament, expressed anger at the company's policy.
A spokesman for Nystrom's office said the drug testing violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure and upholds the right to life, liberty and security of person.