Ontario closes all non-essential services, but not construction

March 25, 2020

Ontario closes all non-essential services, but not construction. Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com[1]
Ontario is closing all non-essential services, but not construction.
Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com

Ontario has deemed the following construction activities as essential, and can thus continue operations:

In a statement released Tuesday, March 24, the Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) urged the provincial government to “suspend work on construction sites across Ontario for 14 days to protect the safety of workers and employers amid the COVID-19 crisis,” reports Global News[2].

“It makes no sense that you cannot have your neighbour over for a cup of coffee yet construction sites are expected to continue operations and they can have hundreds of employees working in close proximity to each other,” said Phil Gillies, OCC’s executive director.

Meanwhile, the construction industry has come together to release a best practice guide and urges all employers to follow it during this time of uncertainty so that construction can continue to operate safely.

“Safety has and always will be the industry’s top priority,” says Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario[3] (RESCON). “Site safety is the builders’ responsibility and they must work with sub-trades employers to ensure all onsite workers and work sites are safe.”

The industry best practice guide includes seven safety recommendations developed by health and safety experts in Ontario’s construction industry and endorsed by labour and management representatives. They include onsite sanitation and physical distancing.

British Columbia

Recently, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the health officer of British Columbia, issued an order under the Public Health Act prohibiting the gathering of people in excess of 50 people at a place of which a person is the owner, occupier, or operator, or for which they are otherwise responsible.

While this order does not apply to construction sites as a whole, Henry is directing employers to take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves and their employees. This includes:

Section 4.85 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation does provide for a minimum standard around the provision of washrooms and hand washing facilities. Where plumbed facilities are impracticable, employers must provide access to portable washroom and hand-washing facilities. Those facilities must be maintained in good working order and must be provided with the supplies necessary for their use.

Employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep updated with the information posted on the province’s website[4].

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, which is beginning to affect B.C. construction projects and employers across the province, the B.C. Construction Association[5] (BCCA) is providing a ‘virtual hotline’ to gather the observations, questions, and requests for guidance from the construction sector, including trade and general contractors, project owners, tradespeople, manufacturers and suppliers, and other service providers.

The information shared will be considered by BCCA as it helps guide the industry response to COVID-19. To support any survey/hotline participant that requests assistance, BCCA has assembled a team of industry experts able to help address a range of issues in the areas of human resources, finance, project terms/contract terms, legal, health, safety, communications, supply chain, or government (regulation, policy, tax, program, legislation, etc.). BCCA’s team of industry experts include B.C. Construction Safety Alliance, B.C. Ministry of Finance, BCCA Employee Benefit Trust, CBRE Ltd., Canadian Construction Association (CCA), Council of Construction Associations, Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP, Jouta Performance Group, Myers Norris Penny (MNP), Pace Group Communications, Partnerships BC, Wylie-Crump Ltd., and WorkSafeBC.

Association recommends the continuation of construction activities

At this time, the Canadian Construction Association[6] (CCA) recommends that construction and related manufacturing activities remain operational.

CCA has sent out a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urgently calling on the federal government for the following actions and information:

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Opener-7.jpg
  2. Global News: https://globalnews.ca/news/6724319/coronavirus-ontario-construction-workers-government-shutdown/
  3. Residential Construction Council of Ontario: https://rescon.com/
  4. website: http://www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19
  5. B.C. Construction Association: https://www.bccassn.com/
  6. Canadian Construction Association: https://www.cca-acc.com/

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