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Alberta construction groups urge province to keep sites open

Russell Hixson
Alberta construction groups urge province to keep sites open

CALGARY, ALTA – As the federal government weighs its options to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, Alberta builders are urging officials to keep job sites open.

In a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, the Alberta Construction Association (ACA) and eight local construction associations called on the province to not suspend construction work.

“There are different groups looking to the government to suggest shutting down construction as an industry. The federal government has already pushed that off to provinces and suggested it’s a province by province issue,” said Frederick Vine, ACA chairman in an interview with the Journal of Commerce.“We are reaching out to say that we don’t think at this time it’s good to shut down completely. Providing ongoing work for workers and keeping the economic engine going. The right thing to do is keep it going if we can.”

Vine emphasized that many sites in the province are large and have occupancies far less dense than office buildings or manufacturing facilities.

He noted that already sites have been getting workers to maintain safe distances, staggering breaks in 20 minute increments in small groups and telling workers to eat their lunch in their own vehicles rather than trailers.

“Probably starting next week a lot of sites will start surveying and screening workers as they come onsite, including temperature testing,” said Vine. “It’s a very challenging moving target, but the industry is very adaptive in dealing with these challenges. Our focus is mantining worker safety and maintaining sites as much as possible.”

Vine also praised the province’s efforts to roll out new infrastructure projects.

“It is the right move for the time being and we are encouraged by that,” said Vine.

Alberta construction industry leaders have met and released a living document that the community intends to continue to update as more information becomes available so industry has the information it needs to keep workers safe on sites.

Documents being provided include a best practices pandemic planning document detailing processes for managing sites and offices as well as a closedown checklist tool should sites close down that will assist in all the planning and activity that would be required if this occurs. The Calgary Construction Association (CCA) has also been hard at work on tools for people to maintain their mental health.

“Among all the work-related activity and family care etc please take time to care for yourselves,” wrote  CCA president Bill Black in a message to members. “We are working on some information and tools relative to our mental health and that of our teams and will be making these available next week as we continue to do all that we can to support our members and our colleagues through this.”

Recent Comments (18 comments)

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Andy Image Andy

I have been on several job sites in the last 2 weeks and haven’t seen I measure being taken for this pandemic. Why should I risk my health everyday while everyone else is at home. I also have a wife and children. Why should I risk bringing it home to them? I am a cabinet maker I would like to know is my job essential? Its easy for the suits to say “there are actions being takin.” but truth of the matter is …. its all talk so they can keep building.

Chris Image Chris

I call bull as nothing has changed on the couple sites I have been at and there are no distancing efforts, no break staggering or other break location options. Only difference is I have seen Lysol wipes. Everyone is on edge wondering why we are still working. Unfortunately it means not working, but it keeps all safe.

Josh Image Josh

I work on site. Maximum of 3 people on site. We practice safe distancing an we try not to share our nail guns.

Joslynn Image Joslynn

If you guys feel that way why not ask your employer for a leave, don’t screw everybody else out of a job and force so many more people into EI because that’s how you feel. If you feel like you do not want to be working through this whole thing talk to your employer and work it out with them. I don’t work in the trades industry but where I work now I am just thankful to even have a job. I am sure that is how most people feel seeing as how majority are asking for construction to stay open, so much so that a letter was sent to the Alberta premier.

Eric Image Eric

Total bull. On a small pcl site and no one is practicing social distancing. Everyone is sharing tools. Some guys left cause they felt sick suddenly but everyone else stays on site and weren’t even told about it.. no care for the world. And the reason why none of us say anything is because we will be replaced and probably on EI forever but it’s the truth construction is archaic when it comes to adapting new rules

Dave Image Dave

If you want to stop the spread of the virus then it makes sense to stop construction projects. Workers are in close proximity to one another, they work long hours so they are physically tired and so is their immune system, then they go home to there families that are trying to be safe. There are projects in construction all over Alberta and if we are serious about protecting ourselves, then these need to be shut down.

Frank Image Frank

So really, what they are saying is that they are above the rules, and will take measures used by others that have not worked. Construction thinking they are special, just wanting to keep executive bonuses coming.

Ryan Image Ryan

Commercial Sites are not safe for workers and need to be shut down. The workforce is at jeopardy by not shutting them down for a short period until proper measures can be put in place. The sites have shared porta potties how do you keep spread while using one of those. Anyone that thinks that can and lobbies for sites to be open I invite you to go to any commercial site for a day and use those washroom and see how safe you feel going to see your grand parents or children after.

Dani Image Dani

If you have never worked on a job site you have no idea how disgusting they can be.
Most sites do not have running water. Workers are so use to not washing or even sanitizing their hands. They eat with dirty hands, they share tools, pens etc. Limited porta potties available.
I had to do a safety meeting yesterday, they all had to sign the new covid safe work practices. I said “Sanitize your hands before using a pen”…. did they listen? NO!!!!!
Workers don’t listen and they won’t change. Now the government is saying that one family should dish out their families food so not everyone touches the serving spoon but yet work sites are still allowed. RIDICULOUS

Mario Image Mario

Shut them down. They say they are essential but no they are not. I have heard them say that if they close them down it will be a danger to the public, but we have fences and signs posted, we cover holes and barricade dangers.
If a major incident happens on a work site its gets shut down and sometimes for weeks. So ya we can shut them down safely and we can do it fast. These sites are dirty and filthy mud holes that we struggle with all day and now throw in a pandemic and still have filthy washrooms, no clean area to relax and a bunch of dirty worried people in tight areas together.

Shaun Image Shaun

So what your saying is your going to close your offices and work from home and send all the workers to the field so you can maintain profits on the risk of killing employees.

Mike Image Mike

Its is complete bull….

I work on a small construction site in Canmore. It is impossible for us to keep the social distancing measure, we all cough from smoking and use each others tools, our noses are always runny as we work outside, we visit corner stores and groceries and yet, today I have been to sign a paper which states that my supervisor will get to decide if i should stay at work and got home….

We are failing our community, and our country, so that someone who can afford this $4 million (and who own 3 more), so that my employer and his (who can already retire) makes a few 100k more before this all goes south? We work really hard and feel like we, and everyone we love and care about, are worth less than a roof and a few walls… Time to make this social distancing measures a law. Because our employers DO NOT GIVE A DAMN about our health, only their wallet. Until then, I will have to show up to work if i want to keep my job after all of this is over. Thanks for helping.

Jay Sahota Image Jay Sahota

How many of these guys who want these sites to remain open are actually even on site? Most office personnel have been told to work from home yet it’s OK for the trades guys to be on site sharing common work spaces. Construction workers are treated like worthless peasants in Alberta.

ZUKKs Image ZUKKs

Liar!!! liar!! pants on fire!!!! “Frederick Vine” That’s a big lie.
I’ve been on many of your so called sites working (and still do) and I’m yet to see any of those safety measures. There are no sanitary equipments, no social distancing, no safety regulations regarding COVID-19. It’s all about money & greed. What are they waiting for to shut down? A sacrificial lamb? Is it Until someone tests positive that they’ll shut down? Because by then it’ll be too late. It would have spread all over.

Korey Image Korey

I agree with Andy and Chris nothing has changed and we are risking our lives and that of our families

Jerry Image Jerry

If you are seeing non conformance to the most recent pandemic protocol on a jobsite you should be emailing the ACA and naming the specific sites .
I am on a Clark Builders job site and they are doing an excellent job of updating the government’s changes daily AND CONFORMING . I am more comfortable at work than anywhere else . (other than home )

Al Image Al

i am a construction worker, my employer Is moving forward as if this declaration of being “essential” is the word of god. I fail to see how cosmetic renos are essential. I’m working on a small site but it only takes one sick person to get everyone sick. I need the money but I don’t need this threat of getting sick hanging over me. We will be exposed until this lame provincial government kicks this in the butt. Get us off these sites. It is unsafe.

Mary Image Mary

Shut down construction sites, why the government has to listen only the builders of course they want to profit from home they are safe with their love ones. Builders said they are implementing several measures of COVID-19 it doesn’t make sense knowing the way the virus spreads.

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