By Bill Tremblay
Non-essential construction in Ontario will be halted as the province looks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Friday, April 16, alongside numerous other restrictions.
“We’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccines,” Ford said. “We are on our heels, but if we dig in and remain steadfast, we can turn this around.”
Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott said, “all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector will be closed.” The restrictions come into place on Saturday, April 17 at 12:01 a.m.
Click here to read how the province previous described essential construction.
Manufacturing, as well as forestry will be allowed to continue under the new measures. Ford said he has been asked why forestry is allowed to continue.
“The supply chain is so, so deep,” the Premier said. “There’s a product in forestry that’s in aspirin and dozens of dozens of other products.”
The Ontario government has also started a workplace inspection blitz that includes 1,300 construction sites in COVID-19 hot spots throughout the province.
“The restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced, because they must be,” Ford said.
The blitz, which began April 16, will see the province dispatch 200 workplace inspectors, supported by provincial offences officers, to enforce safety requirements at the jobsites.
“In order to reduce the spread, we are shutting down some non-essential construction like shopping malls, hotels and office towers,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“However, there are still projects that are critical to our health, like building our homes, our hospitals, assessment centres and long-term care homes, and we need to ensure these sites are being kept safe.”
The inspectors will check that employers understand the risks associated with COVID-19, including how to reduce the spread in their workplace, and that measures and procedures are in place to keep workers safe.
They will also ensure that workers are practicing safe work habits both on the clock and on breaks, checking for physical distancing and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment when required.
“For our employers and employees take note, this is your last warning,” McNaughton said.