Essential construction projects in Ontario accelerated amid COVID-19
By Kavita Sabharwal-Chomiuk
In response to COVID-19, the Province of Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like those in the healthcare sector such as new hospital builds, expansions and COVID-19 assessment centres, to 24 hours a day. This move will also allow construction employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of employees on these job sites.
Ontario began temporarily limiting local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction projects, effective April 7, 2020, allowing for expedited construction on key facilities. The extension of hours for these projects also allows worksite managers more flexibility to stagger shifts, limit the number of people in one place, and take reasonable precautions to keep workers safe under the recent guidelines issued by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer for construction sites.
The government will also be deploying “more inspections, more inspectors, more phone lines, and more people to take your calls. We have conducted thousands of inspections and investigations across the province in March and we will continue to conduct more this month,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) released a statement following the government announcement, supporting the government’s decision to keep construction sites open 24 hours a day amid COVID-19, “where compliance with the current health and safety protocols and the guidance of public health authorities can be maintained”.
“The continuation of critical federal infrastructure projects demonstrates the importance of the industry’s role in delivering these projects while maintaining the health and safety of workers, their families and communities as our top priority”, read the statement. The statement went on to cite CCA’s COVID-19 Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites, which features current and updated guidance from public health authorities.
“These standardized protocols provide best practices and a consistent national approach for employers and employees to follow to protect themselves and the public at large. They should be consulted along with local health authority directives to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, allowing work to continue safely. These protocols include measures on prevention, detection, and rapid response based on information and recommendations from respected public health authorities; and will be updated regularly as required”, the statement concluded.