TORONTO – The Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) is calling on the provincial government to reconsider restrictions that are once again hobbling the construction industry.
Premier Doug Ford today announced a shutdown of much of the province’s construction industry as part of a new package of measures to control the spread of COVID 19. But the construction sector has one of the best safety records of any industry and is not contributing to the spread of the virus, according to OCC Phil Gillies.
‘Construction has been in and out of various restrictions for over a year now, both regionally and across the province’, says Gillies. ‘But a recent snapshot of 10,000 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began showed that fewer than 200 of those cases originated in the construction industry. Construction has probably the best health and safety record during the pandemic of any sector in the economy.’
Gillies added, “Construction contractors have gone to great expense providing personal protective equipment to employees and providing sanitary washroom facilities on worksites.”
There is a belief in the industry that a recent incident at a home construction site showing some workers partying with a stripper and alcohol may have influenced the government’s decision to restrict construction across the province. Videos of the incident surfaced following an unauthorized gathering at a Mattamy Homes jobsite on April 9th. Employees of the subcontractor, Nelmar Drywall, were engaged in these inappropriate activities. The employees were terminated, and their actions swiftly denounced by both Mattamy and Nelmar.
‘On behalf of the Ontario Construction Consortium, I join in denouncing this incident, which was regrettable and not in keeping with the high standards of behaviour expected of the province’s construction workers’, said Gillies. ‘At the same time, we should recognize that this was an isolated occurrence which is not typical of the behaviour of the vast majority of construction professionals. To shutdown billions of dollars of construction based on this incident is not fair or appropriate’.
“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 that everyone is making extraordinary efforts to keep workers safe