Has the time come for Recovery-Ready Workplaces? Treating Addiction in a Recovery-Informed Workplace

April 4th, 2024

Part One – 11 am to 12:30 pm

Part Two – 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Glen 206 – TELUS Convention Centre Calgary

About this session – Has the time come for Recovery Ready Workspaces – Part 1

Overview of Recovery and Recovery Ready Workplaces

Dr Ray Baker

The harms associated with substance use can range from mild to severe. Although addiction is considered to be a chronic relapsing condition, Recovery is not only possible but also highly achievable. There is no one pathway for all but many achieve natural recovery (I will emphasize that). Natural recovery is recovery that occurs without treatment or support groups etc (NIAAA, 2012). As the science of recovery has grown, the concept of recovery capital (RC) has emerged in the literature as a potential metric and marker for recovery gains. The importance of Recovery Capital and especially Social Capital cannot be underestimated, especially when considering the dynamics of a workplace.

This session will include a review of Recovery, Recovery Capital, and highlight the role of the workplace in the Recovery continuum and what a Recovery-Ready Workplace might look like. Employers and unions are learning that the recovery community is unobtrusive but diverse, and it is likely that someone who’s been through struggles with addiction has beneficial experience to share. Diversity in the workplace is one of the greatest assets of a good company, and bringing in people with recovery experiences is no different. It encourages prevention and earlier assistance.

Generally, a workplace that is supportive of recovery would aim to accomplish two things:

• Prevent workplace factors that could contribute to or prolong a substance use disorder

• Lower barriers to seeking and receiving care, and maintaining recovery

Ian Robb

Building Trades of Alberta Recovery-related activities

This session will include a review of how the Building Trades of Alberta has invested efforts in building resiliency and supporting Mental Health and Wellness while engaging workplaces in the concept of Recovery. This has included learning more about the benefits of a Recovery-Informed-Workplace and developing skills for managing overall well-being of the workforce. The BTA offers the opportunity for training to become a certified Peer Support worker through the Workplace Mental Health Leadership Certificate program. The organization has also developed a relationship with an interactive digital service that offers recovery support for alcohol and drugs.

Afternoon Session – Part 2

Dr. Ray Baker will offer a summary of his morning session, followed by Dr. Jenny Melamed       

Treating Addiction in a Recovery-Informed Workplace

Be able to assist those with the most complex assessment and treatment needs (Jenny Melamed)

The most common approach to recovery is natural recovery. Sometimes the situation is more complex. Traditionally, the focus for workplaces when it comes to employees struggling with substance use issues has been to try to assist with already established, complicated medical and psychosocial symptoms. In some cases formal treatment might be required which needs to address the psychosocial, spiritual, behavioural and biological elements of the disorder.     Unions and employers need to be aware of the key elements of an appropriate independent medical assessment and follow-up, including the role of the personal physician.

The Canadian Human Rights Act defines dependence on drugs or alcohol (substance dependence) as a disability. This means that when an employee is diagnosed with substance dependence, they have a right to be accommodated by their employer—just as anyone else with a disability.

Learning Objectives

These sessions are designed to assist attendees in developing a lens that will assist them in helping their workplace move from traditional drug and alcohol policies toward a more recovery-friendly workplace.
At the completion of this panel discussion, participants will:

  • These sessions are designed to assist attendees in developing a lens that will assist them in helping their workplace move from traditional drug and alcohol policies toward a more recovery-friendly workplace.
    At the completion of this panel discussion participants will:
  • Have a greater appreciation of the concept of recovery and how it relates positively to workplace settings.
  • Reflect on the challenges for management and labour when creating and supporting a recovery-friendly workplace.
  • Feel more confidence in assisting workers who are seeking treatment for substance use disorders.
  • Consider training and skills for workplace personnel to help support those who may be experiencing substance use challenges, may be returning to work in early recovery or who are in sustained recovery.
  • Demonstrate the importance of a therapeutic alliance and show how MOUD is but one arm of recovery
  • Be familiar with and able to apply scientific research into an assertive referral to community mutual help groups
  • Be familiar with appropriate language to approach doctors about ROSC and the language doctors can use to effectively communicate with the recovering community
  • Be familiar with and able to use screening instruments to measure Recovery Capital in patients
  • Be familiar with how an office-based doctor can most effectively play a role in a local ROSC


Ray Baker MD, FCFP, FASAM, ABAM Associate Clinical Professor University of British Columbia

Dr. Ray Baker holds certification and fellowship status in family medicine and addiction medicine.  Between 1989 and 1995 Ray designed and directed the first addiction medicine Curriculum at University of British Columbia. He represented Canada on the board of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and served as principal author of the standards of practice in addiction medicine, adopted as policy by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.

Dr Baker assessed and provided treatment recommendations for several thousand people suffering from addiction and associated problems including chronic pain, medical complications and psychiatric comorbidity.  

In his work as consultant in occupational addiction medicine, Ray engaged with many employers and unions, developing policies and procedures to assist employees with substance use disorders to receive appropriate care and safe, sustainable return to work. Dr. Baker was principal author of Canada’s Medical Rules for safety-critical railway workers with substance use disorders, implemented by the Railway Association of Canada. Ray served as consultant to BC’s Physician Support Program, Lawyers Assistance Program, College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia and to the MacMillan Bloedel – IWA joint Employee and Family Assistance Program and the National Basketball Association during those great days of the Vancouver Grizzlies.

Since 2016 Dr. Baker has focused on developing excellence in recovery-supporting resources in the community. He authored Canada’s first Recovery Coach training curriculum and manual and participated in the training of over 200 Recovery Coaches. Ray believes strongly that perhaps the most powerful and effective recovery support resources are recovery friendly workplaces. 

In 2022 Dr. Ray Baker was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Jenny Melamed
MCFP (AM), CSAT Candidate

Dr. Jenny Melamed has extensive experience managing addiction disorders in a wide range of clinical settings. 

Dr. Melamed qualified as a Certified Medicolegal Evaluator in January 2022 and was recognized as a Fellow of the International Academy of Independent Medical Evaluators in 2023.  She is a Medical Review Officer (MRO) – Providing monitoring services for individuals in recovery from addiction disorders. As a sought after expert in addiction medicine, she regularly speaks on addiction disorders and is able to practically apply her knowledge of treatment options when conducting Independent Medical Evaluations (IMEs). 

She is certified to prescribe Methadone for both opioid addiction  and the management of pain disorders.

Her experience includes:

2001 – present: Private addiction practice in Vancouver and Surrey, BC.

2007 – 2014: Resident physician for Charlford House, recovery home for women, Burnaby, BC.

2008 – 2013: Consultant physician Fraser Health Authority addiction clinic.

2014 – 2017: Planning committee, Annual Western Canadian Addiction Forum.

2012 – present: University of British Columbia Clinical Instructor – Department of Family Practice.

2007 – 2010: Consultant physician for WorkSafe BC for the management of chronic pain and/or addiction patients.

2006 – 2007: Board member Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine – BC representative. 

2005 – 2007: Consultant physician level 3 and level 4 detox facilities, Vancouver, BC.

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