TORONTO — The Ontario government has added “construction including infrastructure” to the second group of essential workers for phase two of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
According to an Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) bulletin, this means all construction workers will have access to the vaccine, when available, a month earlier than the general public.
Throughout phase two vaccines will initially be made available to the “primary priority,“ which has been characterized as population groups, including adults aged 60 to 79 years of age and groups recognized to have greater risk associated with hot spot communities, congregate living settings and high-risk areas. Once the primary group has been vaccinated, a second group that includes construction workers will get the vaccine, the bulletin reads.
The OGCA, along with other construction stakeholders, including other trade associations and unions, had been advocating for construction to be included in phase two of the rollout.
A projected timeline chart shows “Essential Workers who cannot work from home” as potentially being vaccinated as early as June.
“Despite meeting the challenges of keeping workers safe, the increased risk of exposure on larger sites, the threat of COVID-19 variants, and workers’ ability to be vaccinated onsite make the industry primed for early vaccine adoption,” the OGCA states.
On March 23, the OGCA submitted a letter to the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce that emphasized the importance of the sector being included in phase two.
“Construction employers believe that the same priority level should be given to those that confront potential exposure every day. This includes grocery store workers, pharmacy workers and other frontline ‘essential workers.’ This priority position for construction workers is appropriate for the risk of exposure to the virus they face going to work every day and recognizes their work keeping our economy afloat during the pandemic,” it reads.