Ontario to accelerate essential construction projects amid COVID-19 pandemic

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At an April 8 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, such as extending hours for essential construction projects to 24 hours a day, which include critical projects in the health-care sector.

This means that all work on new hospital builds, expansions and COVID-19 assessment centres will continue during the day or at night in order to accelerate the construction on these critical projects, as well as enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites.

By extending hours for essential construction, it will give worksite managers more flexibility in terms of shifts, which will help to limit the number of people in one place.

It will also enable them to take proper precautions to keep workers safe and healthy under the recent guidelines issued by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer for construction sites.

Today’s announcement (April 8) came from Premier Doug Ford, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“During this escalating crisis, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, particularly to properly care for those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other patients who require critical care,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“That’s why we’re extending construction hours to allow us to build essential infrastructure faster while ensuring construction workers can practice physical distancing on worksites to stay safe and healthy.”

Temporarily, the province of Ontario will also limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities beginning April 7, 2020.

“Our government is doing everything in its power to make sure workers on the job are safe during this pandemic,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“That means 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. We will do everything in our power to keep the essential workers of our province safe.”

In terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Ford gave the public some good news, stating that “everything is ramping up and coming together now on the PPE side of things.”

Ford also emphasized the importance of testing, stating that the days of doing only 2,000-3,000 tests per day are “done.”

“Moving forward, we need to see 13,000 tests every single day. We have to make this happen and we need to start doing it immediately starting tomorrow,” said Ford.

When asked why more tests weren’t being done on the daily, Ford told reporters that although he was following the advice from the Chief Medical Officer, he also understood the importance of learning from mistakes.

“We’re going to learn from past mistakes and move forward,” said Ford.

“I don't believe in excuses. Let’s come up with solutions. I’m confident that when we come in here, day after day, we’re going to see results.”

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