Mar. 19, 2020: COVID-19 Update

March 19, 2020

The reaction to the ongoing coronavirus is extremely fluid and fast moving. In an effort to share information with our labour and management stakeholders, we have summarized current information available from both the federal and provincial governments, local unions and contractor associations.

As of today, most local union offices are continuing to offer essential services but have adjusted their procedures to limit person-to-person contact. All apprenticeship, safety and upgrade training programs have also been cancelled until early April. These practices will be reviewed as the situation continues to evolve.

At this time, construction sites remain open in Ontario. While many office workers have switched to a work from home format, construction workers do not have that option. Local and provincial unions are offering their membership with information on self-isolation, quarantine requirements and current health guidelines such as social distancing, frequent hand washing and cleaning of work areas. It is recognized that this can be challenging for construction workers. Local Business Managers and Representatives are also instructing workers about changes to EI should they be laid-off or be required to self-isolate or quarantine.

Premier Ford said at a press conference on March 18, 2020 in regard to the potential closing of construction sites that he would “follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Minister of Health, and the COVID-19 Command Team,” and currently “we’re going to go job site-by-job site…and we’ll just play it day-by-day.”

The Ontario government is introducing legislation to amend the Employment Standards Act that will provide additional supports for workers in Ontario. This legislative change is expected to receive unanimous consent from all parties. The proposed changes will protect employees unable to work for the following reasons:

  • The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for the virus
  • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • The employee is in isolation or quarantine
  • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction
  • The employer directs the employee not to work
  • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to the virus such as a school or day-care closure.
  • OCS will continue to monitor announcements by all levels of government and provide information to our stakeholders.

Please click here for more information on what you need to know about Health and Safety and Working On-Site.

Please click here for more information on the $82 Billion Stimulus Package Announced by Federal Government on March 18, 2020.