Ontario, Canada is extending hours for essential construction projects, such as those in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a statement from the Office of the Premier in Ontario, work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day in order to help accelerate the construction of these projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites.
To date, work has been ongoing at Canadian construction sites that are in compliance with government safety guidelines.
Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, jointly announced extended construction hours and other measures to keep Ontario workplaces safe.
“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 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 work sites to stay safe and healthy.”
Ontario will temporarily limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities effective 7 April. This will allow for expedited construction on key facilities, such as new hospital builds, expansions, temporary COVID-19 response units or structures, and COVID-19 assessment centres.
Extending hours for essential construction will also give worksite managers more flexibility to stagger shifts, limit the number of people in one place, and take reasonable precautions to keep workers safe and healthy under the recent guidelines issued by Ontario’s chief prevention officer for construction sites.
“Our government is doing everything in its power to make sure workers on the job are safe during this pandemic,” said Minister McNaughton. “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.”
Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said, “We’re helping to protect the health and safety of construction workers and ensure that critical health care-related construction projects continue during this outbreak. Temporarily limiting noise bylaws to extend the hours for construction work will help make it possible to stagger shifts and have fewer workers on site at any given time so they can practice physical distancing.”
Minister Elliott added, “As part of our plan to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are continuing to expand health care capacity in communities across the province. That includes building new assessment centres and field hospitals, both of which are critical to ensuring we are able to care for Ontarians as we contain this new virus. Extended hours will ensure that work on these facilities continues safely to the benefit of all Ontarians.”