March 23, 2020

Ontario Government Orders Nonessential Workplaces to Close

The Ontario premier ordered that all nonessential business will close for a two-week period.

Most construction activity in the province and related support activities have been deemed essential, so we anticipate that most Local 6, 52, and 53 members will continue to report to work. CLAC supports the government’s decision and applauds its recognition of the important work you do to build, maintain, and service Ontario’s economy.

We remain concerned by reports that some employees face unsafe and unsanitary site conditions. Bad actors cannot be tolerated. At this time, employers must introduce extraordinary precautions and special measures to prevent the spread of a life-threatening virus.

In a statement released last Friday, CLAC called on employers and government to ensure that the health and safety of workers remains paramount. We recommend extreme measures be taken to ensure that workers not be permitted to work or congregate in enclosed spaces beyond the number the public health authorities have prescribed for public gatherings, which is currently set at 50. We urge that where appropriate controls cannot be introduced, such work sites be closed.

To our members, and especially union stewards and health and safety representatives, we urge heightened vigilance. High-traffic areas, common areas, and restrooms should be disinfected regularly throughout the day. Hand-washing stations should be available and well stocked. Social-distancing practices should be expected on site, and workers with COVID-19 symptoms must be required to stay home.

Where there are concerns, please contact your CLAC representative, all of whom are still working and available. Please also know that our CLAC Jobs Team is still available to help if you are looking for work.

Please also note that the province has introduced strong job protection language, which ensures that workers need not fear losing their job if they must remain at home due to COVID-19, or need to care for those affected.