TORONTO — As Ontario Premier Doug Ford explicitly noted that the construction sector will remain in operation during an address Tuesday morning, executives in the sector joined other business leaders in encouraging cooperation and joint efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Ford announced a state of emergency during an 8:30 a.m. broadcast with institutions such as day cares and small recreation programs now shut down along with restaurants and bars. Gatherings of 50 or more are prohibited.
But construction and other sectors will not be subject to a mandatory shut-down, the premier said.
“We’re facing an unprecedented time in our history. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Ford said at the Queen’s Park news conference.
The state of emergency does not constitute a “provincial shutdown” Ford said, adding, “The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital to day-to-day life, will not be affected by this order.”
Among the signatories to the open letter published in the Globe and Mail and elsewhere Tuesday morning calling for “every leader in the country to immediately shift focus to the singular objective of slowing the pace of transmission of this coronavirus” were the following active in the construction sector:
- Neil Chrystal — President and CEO, Polygon Homes
- Ian Edwards — President and CEO, SNC-Lavalin
- Charles Emond — President and CEO, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ)
- David Filipchuk — President and CEO, PCL Constructors
- Gord Johnston — President and CEO, Stantec
- Jeff Kinnaird — President, Home Depot of Canada
- Patrick Lamarre — President, Kiewit Canada Group
- Sam Pollock — CEO, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.
The letter stated:
- “The organizations and employers we represent compete fiercely every day. Today we stand united in a shared battle against COVID-19.
- “We urge every leader in the country to immediately shift focus to the singular objective of slowing the pace of transmission of this coronavirus.
- “International experience demonstrates that social distancing is the only effective method, and is in the best interests of our employees, their families and our communities.
- “While this will have significant economic impact on our businesses in the short term, it is critical to weathering this storm and will hasten the recovery.
- Governments across the country have acted yet these measures will only be effective if all employers step up and do their part to protect the nation’s health and welfare.
- “The undersigned have taken important steps and urge your organizations to join us:
- “Urge your employees to stop all non-essential travel, whether for personal or business reasons. Travel exposes people to infection, increasing risk for their personal and professional contacts.
- “Enable your employees to practice social distancing. Facilitate work-from-home for all non-critical business functions. Work with government, if necessary, to ensure sick pay for workers. Cancel any in-person gatherings or events. Ensure that mental-health services are in place to support those in need during a period of social isolation.
- “Maintain essential services to Canadians. In co-ordination with government, develop clear guidelines to protect the health of employees who provide critical services to the public.
- “Understand that your employees are looking to you for leadership and trusted information in turbulent times. Share trusted advice from public health agencies and communicate consistently and clearly with your employees. Recap the latest guidance and show them what you’re doing to support it.
- “On behalf of all of us, including millions of colleagues and employees, thank you to all healthcare workers on the front lines on whom we are relying to help us through this emergency. We have enormous respect and gratitude for your efforts.”