Construction workers are still not specifically designated as being in the queue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Ontario construction and public health observers say.
The official policy on delivering vaccines through three phases of the province’s vaccination program is found on the Ministry of Health’s website, covid-19.ontario.ca, stated Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health, on March 3.
That site refers to the pool of phase two vaccine recipients as including “people who live and work in high-risk congregate settings (for example, shelters, community living)” and “frontline essential workers, including first responders, education workers and the food processing industry.”
“The process to categorize specific types of workers, such as construction workers, as essential workers for the purposes of determining vaccination prioritization is to be determined by the province,” said Dubey.
“Vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially in the coming weeks. Opportunities for more people to be vaccinated will be announced as information becomes available. We will keep the public informed every step of the way.”
During the first phase of vaccinations, said to have started in December 2020 and span to March, inoculations will be administered to staff and essential caregivers and any residents that have not yet received a first dose in long-term-care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes; other similar categories of patients and residents along with health care workers identified as highest priority; and others at high risk.
Phase two, April to July 2021, targeting the essential workers and others, will see the vaccination of 8.7 million people.
Phase three, described as “steady state” and described as August 2021 and beyond, depending on the availability of vaccines, will see the remaining Ontarians who want the vaccines vaccinated.
Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) president Ian Cunningham said his association issued a request to the minister of health that construction workers be given their “appropriate” place in in the queue of essential workers for vaccinations but has not heard back.
“We are not suggesting that construction workers should be in the lineup with doctors, nurses, paramedics, long-term-care home workers and residents,” said Cunningham. “There are also grocery store and pharmacy workers that confront the virus every day. COCA just wants a priority position for construction workers that is appropriate for the risk of exposure to the virus they face going to work every day and keeping the economy chugging along during the pandemic.”
Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.