Ontario will extend construction hours for essential projects as the number of COVID-19 cases in the province increases.
Speaking Wednesday at Queen’s Park alongside Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Labor, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, Premier Ontario Doug Ford said the decision was taken to expedite projects related to essential health infrastructure, including assessment centers and temporary facilities. to deal with the pandemic.
“We are extending construction hours to speed up construction of these projects, to speed up hospital construction, to get more beds and more capacity in the system,” said Ford. “We have to be prepared for any scenario and the health and safety of our essential workers is always at the forefront during this pandemic.”
The new order will allow companies to staff construction sites 24 hours a day. It also makes adjustments to local noise regulations to take account of the work.
The Progressive Conservative government has also said that the extended hours will give managers the flexibility to stagger shifts and limit the number of workers at each site.
In order to provide safety on construction sites, the Ford government will also ask recently retired safety inspectors if they are willing to return to work. In addition, the province will double the capacity of its health and safety call center from 25 to 50 telephone lines.
In addition, the government plans to redeploy more than 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand the new security guidelines and will deploy 30 more specialists to support employers and workers in the field.
“If you are one of the unsung heroes who go about your work in your vital business, I will not tell you, our government is doing everything to keep you safe during this pandemic,” said McNaughton. “It means more inspectors, more inspections, more phone lines and more people to take calls – no stone goes without return.”
McNaughton added that about 5,000 inspections of businesses and construction sites have taken place in the past month and that “thousands more” are taking place.
“When justified, they shut down workplaces,” he added.
Some construction sites were closed last weekend after Ford reduced the list of essential companies to 44 categories. However, sites linked to critical projects, such as provincial infrastructure, public transportation, energy or daily maintenance are expected to continue.
If a worker feels they are not safe in their environment, the government has said they should call 1-877-202-0008.