Menstrual products to be provided in washrooms at large construction sites under new Ontario legislation


Published May 6, 2024 at 10:31 am

women washrooms construction ontario

Women remain underrepresented in skilled trades but new Ontario legislation aims to help change that.

The Ontario government announced the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024 today (May 6) in Mississauga.

In part, the proposed legislation will require large construction projects and employers at other workplaces to maintain the washrooms they provide in a clean and sanitary condition. Menstrual products must be provided on larger construction sites, under the new act.

“Something that seems so small, but it’s so huge for women,” said Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. “The bill we are introducing today will further support the health and safety of women at work.”

The legislation is the first of its kind in Canada and would make the skilled trades more accessible to women and support women at work, said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of women working on construction projects in recent years. And we’ve heard their request to make these workplaces more inclusive,” Piccini said.

In the drive to build more homes in Ontario, the province can’t ignore 50 per cent of the workforce, he added.

Under the new legislation, constructors and employers will be required to maintain an up-to-date cleaning log for each washroom to allow workers to see when washrooms were last cleaned, said Piccini.

“This is necessary to protect the health and dignity and safety of workers. No worker should be confronted with a dirty and unsanitary washroom while they’re at work,” he said.

women washrooms construction

Other changes proposed include adding virtual harassment to the definitions of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ensuring that policies also cover online harassment.

The government will also engage with survivors of harassment, legal experts and other stakeholders to identify the most effective legislative or regulatory means to create a duty to act for employers where investigations have identified workplace harassment has occurred.

It’s hoped these changes will make the construction field more inclusive and eliminate discrimination.

“Because these careers are exciting. They’re diverse. They’re in demand, and they pay so well, and they provide good benefits,” said Williams.

Steel worker Michelle Small, who is currently working at M City in Mississauga, said there has been progress in the field.

“But despite the progress, this is still a man-dominated sector,” said Small at the press conference. “I’m usually one of only a few women on the job site. I’m happy to hear about the new policies…”

Additional measures to address safety in construction will include a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector and a consultation on expanding the types of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to be provided on construction projects.

If passed, the government’s fifth Working for Workers Act will also impose tougher penalties on exploitative bad actors and open up new pathways for people to join the skilled trades.

See the full press conference here.

Lead photo: weightlossnyc

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