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Construction's fate unclear as Ontario orders closure of non-essential workplaces

Construction's fate unclear as Ontario orders closure of non-essential workplaces

TORONTOIn an effort to further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government is ordering the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces, but it is unclear whether or not construction sites will be included on that list. 

The announcement was made today (March 23).  

The closures will come into effect March 24 at 11:59 p.m. and a full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open will be made available the same day. Thclosure is expected to be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves, stated the province. 

Ontario reported 78 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial total to 503, the largest increase in a day so far.   

“This was a tough decision, but the right decision, as this is no time for half measures,” stated Premier Doug Ford.  

Businesses that can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt, indicates a government release, adding essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure people have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products. 

When asked whether construction sites will be shut down at a press conference March 23, Ford said “we are making sure we cross our Ts and dot our Is. There is an extensive list that is essential and a large list that is non-essential. We will be announcing that tomorrow.” 

He did criticize constructors who permitted unhygienic conditions and stressed that it was not all construction companies.  

“I have heard the same stories form construction workers directly,” said Ford. “I have talked to labour, I have talked to construction companies, I have talked to homebuilders. What I have to say to the construction companies, and it’s not all of them by the way, and the sites, it is different for all of them, one size doesn’t fit all, but large construction sites downtown, the pictures I have seen … to have outhouses overflowing, not have sanitary items — get your act together. Take care of front-line construction workers. To have an outhouse overflowing in the picture I saw, it is unacceptable. 

He added, “and if they don’t do it, we will do it. We want to work collaboratively with the construction trades, we have a phenomenal relationship with them, but to put their workers, in some cases, not all, in jeopardy by going into an outhouse and seeing it overflowing, not having proper water in outhouses, hand sanitizers, it’s unacceptable.” 

Ford also said workers who do not feel safe should “leave the site and don’t come back.” 

Some construction will “continue moving forward” Ford said. 

“We have to make sure hospital construction, for example Vaughan, we need to get that up and going as soon as possible. It is critical we get those hospitals up and moving ASAP.” 

Ford also announced today that Ontario is providing a $200-million funding boost for social services, including shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and non-profits. 

Money will be given to municipalities and social service agencies and will help those organizations hire additional staff and operate using social distancing. 

The funding will also go toward an expanded emergency assistance program for people on welfare to help cover food, rent, informal childcare arrangements and other services. 


With files from the Canadian Press 

Recent Comments (12 comments)

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John Kelly Image John Kelly

I personally will be stopping for at least a 14 day period.
As commented by Doug Ford that some priority projects need completion i.e. Hospitals
Take these weeks to ensure I am healthy and give companies the opportunity to bring all sites to top level of hygiene.
Reinforcing Ironworker Local 721
John Kelly

Varghese Image Varghese

As a construction worker it’s hard to work at this condition of spreading covid 19. Mentally and physically not stable to continue to proceed. Need a temporary shutdown

Fernando Gomes Image Fernando Gomes

Why is non-essential personnel on the list. Ford made a big statement… then it’s as if some pressure (maybe unions) influenced him to put everybody On the list. I’m sorry seems like a repeat of other politicians that didn’t do enough. Putting the general population at risk of serious bodily harm/ death.

Jason Image Jason

Shouldn’t everyone have a clean bathrooms all year round and not just through this state of emergency? A clean bathroom isn’t going to stop the spread. We travel to work, we need gas, we come home to our families after being at work and being exposed to everything. We are the biggest spread right now and it won’t stop until you halt everything. Construction funds Ford and thats all he cares about, is keep making money. Not the workers and the people, how is condo construction or housing, or even the LCBO as examples essential? So many things on that essential list is a joke and should be embarrassed for even mentioning them.

James Martin Image James Martin

Downtown construction projects have numerous temporary construction elevators. They don’t run those elevators 30 floors up the building with one or two men. They pack them with a dozen guys.
Men work hard, sweat and have close contact.

Shut down construction residential and commercial.

Drew Image Drew

This is a load of you know what.. he did nothing! Not one site closed down. He did this to make people think he cares! He lies!! Because this line right here allows every job site in the province to continue to work.

28. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;

A guy squirts some hand sanitizer on your hands on the way into the sites. Yeah that’s about the only thing that has changed!! Great work Ford!

Rocha Image Rocha

Why are condo buildings essential or is somebody getting their pockets lined? This is ridiculous or are construction workers expendable?

Zagar Image Zagar

Why the government did not control the airports for people arriving from countries infected by COVID-19? That was the major problem. The public doing the best to help and complying with the rules of stay home.
People with virus are coming at the airports and nobody checking them.
How the government expects to stop the virus spread if they don’t control who is coming to our country? Close borders and do better control. Also, people should not move from province to province without a doctor note that they free from COVID-19.
Bottom line is to stop people from outside coming in. They should be placed in isolation by the government as soon as they arrive at an airport, do not let them out. Countries like India and Singapore have better control at the airports then Canada.
This the only way to stop the spreading.
Wish everyone to stay healthy and hope things do get better for everyone.
People and government must say a big thank you to doctors and nurses for helping the Canadian people survive COVID-19.

Tony Van Boxtel Image Tony Van Boxtel

By keeping construction sites open and expecting workers to adhere to social distancing guidelines, Ford is putting workers at risk in a multitude of ways. Thousands of men and women driving in, and out of the city, making stops along the way, does not do anything to curb the spread of this deadly virus. Those men and women will be going home to their families possibly spreading it to their spouses and children.

Even the cleanest construction sites are notoriously known to be subpar in their efforts to keep washrooms desirable to enter.

Trades are required to work in pairs for safety. Contractors will push for work to be done in solitude, creating a higher risk for injury. All trades, all workers should be home for 2 weeks minimum in strict isolation. At least by then A-symptomatic people will be identified without spreading the disease to others.

Stay safe people.

Ray Image Ray

So, some lazy worker takes a pic of one washroom that hasn’t been cleaned (probably three others onsite that are spotless, by the way, and a few of the lazy workers that are inevitable on sites, in boom times, like the ones commenting here, want time off and make it known to the media.
Well take it off cause you obviously have no responsibilities and I can say for sure that if it was not booming the past few years I can guarantee you all wouldn’t have had a job to begin with. Yes, take two weeks and if it extends into months I am sure you would be the first to call the union and say, ‘Please get me back to work,’ ‘We didn’t know it would be this long,’ ‘We just wanted some time off to smoke dope.’
You are all the reasons everything costs so much and probably the reason schedules are hard to make on some sites. Ask the real construction workers who go in to do a good, high-quality, best days work, what they want. A good 99 per cent want to continue working and yes, it’s not hard to stay six feet apart. It’s the lazy worker who wants the help like those commenting here and the one or two calling media. Get a life.

Sara D Image Sara D

As a trade on a residential construction site I believe that the government has chosen to leave us working to appease the builders and ensure they can continue to make money which is bull.
We as trades on residential building sites are not essential!
As most know construction sites are filthy its construction. We don’t have running water, we have outhouses that also don’t have running water. How are we expected to keep safe????? No worries though Ontario government, we are not important, our safety is not important, let’s just make sure this pandemic does not effect the builders’ pockets right!
Both my husband and I work for builders in Durham and we have both continued to go to work everyday putting ourselves our kids and our families at risk.

Gregory Field Image Gregory Field

are house renovations really considered a necessity ? my son was told on Tuesday march 30 that someone had the symptoms of covid 19 and then told the following day it was a false alarm. the symptoms were similar , should the employer not report this anyway and is my son to believe this is true? his mental state is very fragile. Can anyone give some advice


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