February 2021 - OCC calls on provincial government to immediately re-open construction in Greater Toronto Area

For Immediate Release – Feb. 18, 2021

OCC calls on provincial government to immediately re-open construction in Greater Toronto Area
TORONTO – The Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) is calling on the provincial government to immediately suspend restrictions that have once again hobbled the construction industry.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a second state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order which went into effect on Jan. 14. The order brought with it additional restrictions to the construction industry once again, effectively shutting down non-residential projects that weren’t tied to infrastructure or health care and deemed essential.

Construction began resuming in the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) sector as early as February 10 in three regions in eastern Ontario and most of the rest of the province this past Tuesday, Feb. 16 as 30 public health regions transitioned from the province-wide lockdown into the colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework. It was expected that all construction would resume in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) this coming Monday, Feb. 22 even if Toronto, Peel, and York regions were to transition directly into the grey lockdown zone. Now there are indications that this might not happen.

OCC Phil Gillies said it’s time to lift all restrictions on construction in the GTA.

“Enough is enough,” Gillies said in reaction to the latest speculation. “Construction contractors have gone to great expense providing personal protective equipment to employees and providing sanitary washroom facilities on worksites.”

As of Jan. 14, a snapshot of 10,000 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began showed that fewer than 100 of those cases originated in the construction industry. A subsequent outbreak at The Well construction site in downtown Toronto possibly added as many as 68 to that number, if media reports are accurate.

“The construction industry contributed 8% of Canada’s GDP and employed more than 1.2 million people in 2019. It is essential that the government do everything it can to support this vital segment of the economy,” Gillies said. “That begins with allowing all construction to resume immediately, especially in the GTA, Canada’s largest market.”

Gillies said construction sites continue to operate safely due to the efforts of both employers and employees and added that it doesn’t make sense to shut down one site because it’s deemed non-essential and allow another to continue when contractors at both sites are making extraordinary efforts to keep workers safe.

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