Our industry is facing the greatest challenge to its survival in many decades. We, along with our partners in the industry, are responding in a united and collaborative manner, and doing everything in our power to ensure that that survival will occur.
The largest discussion taking place is: should there be a shutdown or should there not be a shutdown?
The majority feel that it is essential for the construction industry to maintain its ability to be operational. It is vital to maintaining the infrastructure within our province so that it can respond to this crisis. While there are a number of dissenting opinions in regards to this, it is not simple to simply say we must shutdown.
The WSIB has released a protocol to compensate workers who contract COVID-19 through the course of their employment.
It is anticipated that most cases will be in the health care sectors for front line medical professionals, but it will also be applied to industries, like construction, whose workers can be exposed on site.
The key issue to be determined by the adjudicator is, does the nature of the worker’s employment create a risk of contracting the virus, and if so, then confirm the evidence that the work made a significant contribution to contracting the virus.
It is therefore vital that contractors use the Best Practices developed by the industry to protect the worker. This document is available in this newsletter or on the OGCA website.
At this time, the policy assigns the cost of the claim to the employer through the new Rate Framework program. We are working through the CEC to appeal to WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer and President Tom Teahen to assign cost accountability to Schedule One employers as a group, rather than the accident employer.
We fully understand that the existing policy puts construction employers at extreme risk in a situation over which you have little direct control. We will do everything possible to encourage the WSIB to protect employers by implementing our recommendation.
Attached is our submission.
The Premier has designated the Chief Prevention Officer to publish a best practices guide that will be used by construction worksites to minimize exposure of workers.
Employers and labour organizations through the Labour Management Committee have developed this document that will help you keep your sites free of the virus and allow for social distancing on sites.
At the time of publishing, the CPO has not issued the guide, but this links to our guide that it is built on.
As an employer, you are responsible for your workers' health and safety while working and they are eligible for coverage from the WSIB.
We now understand that the WSIB will issue a statement that they will provide coverage for workers acquiring COVID where there was an opportunity for transition in the workplace.
It is clearly the responsibility of the employer to take, at times, extreme measures to keep their workers protected from infection.
OGCA recommends that you implement a plan like the COVID19 Resource and Best Practices Document to provide maximum available protection for your worker and if you have a WSIB claim prove that effective measures were put in place.
On Monday, March 23, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced it would shut down all non-essential services for two weeks starting Wednesday to help curb the spread of COVID-19. During his announcement, Premier Ford responded to a public outcry regarding sanitary conditions on some job sites and issued a warning that any construction site found in violation of the health and safety protocols would be shut down.
The Ontario government followed up the announcement Monday evening with a full, 74-point list outlining the businesses it considers essential. The list of exempted construction workplaces includes the following:
26. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space
27. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance
28. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors
29. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects
For more information on the shutdown, read our briefing note here. The OGCA is committed to providing up to date information regarding COVID-19. Please visit www.ogca.ca for managing the virus at worksites and www.Ontario.ca/coronavirus for updates on the virus itself.
Recently, the government announced that they were removing the requirements for time limits on limitation periods and other such things. This has had an unintended consequence, we believe, which we are going to bring to the government's attention. The Holdback is a limitation. During that period, owners are looking to ensure that no liens have been filed against the property or project.
The result of the legislation, without taking into account how our industry operates, means that owners are no longer in a position to release their Holdback. We have been advised by several lawyers that they are having no choice but to advise their clients not to release Holdbacks, the reason being that without a limitation, there is an unending ability for liens to be filed. Until such time as an owner can be assured that the liens can't be filed, they are not in a position to release the Holdback.
We will urge the government to address this issue as quickly as possible so that monies that are owed legitimately should be released and can be released without penalty.
Below is an example of some language that has been sent to a contractor. All contractors in all sectors should be prepared to receive similar letters in the very near future until this can be addressed.
“Unfortunately, I have to let you know that currently, the Region will be unable to release your holdback 45 days after your date of Publication. Due to an Order recently issued by the Province suspending limitation periods, our legal department has advised that for any of our contracts where the deadline to preserve a lien expires on or after March 16, 2020, holdback cannot be released for that contract. This will remain in effect until such time as the suspension is lifted by the Province.”
Based on our research as of last Friday, London, Guelph, Kitchener and Oakville were the only municipalities NOT completing inspections. Three of the four are NOW completing inspections, reversing previous decisions made weeks before. Inspections will be on new construction only and not on occupied buildings. We are also expecting to hear a reversal, and from some other municipalities shortly.
This is great news for the industry and the economy.
The City of Toronto has put out a disturbing notice (click here to read it) indicating that contractors are responsible for maintaining their schedules and taking whatever action is necessary, and should they find a shortage of workers, to seek workers from other areas.
Where those other areas are is anyone's guess, considering this is a national pandemic and since we already had a shortage of workers before it hit, I'm amazed that the City of Toronto thinks that we can just pull workers out of our hat.
Further, rather than take the normal procedures and workarounds of when inspectors can't operate, they are including a condition that after the pandemic is over, inspectors will be able to order you to uncover your work, despite the fact that you may have fully documented it and used an engineer or architect to certify that work so that we could continue to proceed.
This is an unacceptable risk and would raise the costs on projects and lead to disputes as to who is going to be responsible for paying for uncovering the work and then storing it.
As we all grapple with the current COVID-19 Pandemic, I’m sure our highest priority is the health and well-being of our team members and their families, our clients, our trade partners and our communities. This is new territory for everyone. As the global outbreak evolves, we will continue to look for guidance from our Health Authorities and local governments, adapt our measures and precautions accordingly all while doing what we can to maintain a level of business continuity.
If you would like to share information on how to best operate on site and protect workers, please send it to Marjorie Javier at Marjorie@theloc.ca and she will collect and re-issue.
Chairman, League of Champions (LOC)
President, Gillam Group
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) are developing tools and resources specific to the various members they serve daily and posted them to their COVID-19 page that is accessible once logged on to IHSA website.
IHSA also has COVID-19 Updates and Resources that you can check here.
“We realize that the COVID-19 crisis is dominating everyone’s thoughts, however, it is also important to focus on few of the positive things that have happened in the construction industry.”
One such thing was the recent IHSA CORTM Open House and OGCA Leadership Conference that was held on March 6 at the Verdi Convention Centre.
The conference speakers were Enzo Garritano and Paul Casey of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) and MPP Jane McKenna. The panel consisted of Ron Kelusky - CPO, MOL, Andrew Harkness - WSPS, Dr. Nancy Carnide - IWH, and Julian Toy - Substance Abuse Professional was moderated by Craig Lesurf, President of the Gillam Group. Chief Prevention Officer Ron Kelusky was awarded the Doug Chalmers Award for Safety for the 2019 year.
Craig Lesurf, LOC Chairman and Gillam Group President, presented the LOC Jersey to “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion for her support to the Construction industry and to health and safety.
The jersey has been signed by every staff member at Gillam, and by all the participants at the Leadership conference.
Hazel McCallion turned 99 on Feb 14. To recognize her for being truly the “great one," the number 99 was placed at the back of her LOC Jersey.
The League of Champions recognized its new Members and Patrons by awarding them with the LOC Jersey and a framed Membership Charter.
New inductees are Chandos, Harbridge and Cross, Modern Niagara, Golden Horseshoe General Contractors Association (GHGCA), 4S Consulting, and Joint Electrical Promotional Plan (JEPP) – ECAO/IBEW.
New COR Certified members, Modern Niagara, Harbridge and Cross, GFL Environmental and ZGemi Inc. were also recognized by awarding them the COR "C" crest.
Thank you to all the League of Champions members, industry leaders, guests, speakers, associations and their members, and to all the participants who made the conference a success.
To check more photos from the conference, please click here.
To watch Hazel McCallion’s “Keep on Building” video, click here.
Is your company or association a Safety Leader? Are you a Safety Champion and want to make a difference in the Ontario construction industry? Do you want to join an organization that inspires leaders to be health and safety champions?
League of Champions Members and Patrons are committed to inspire leaders to be health and safety champions. Please visit the LOC website, Facebook and Twitter page for more information about the League of Champions. To apply to become a Safety Champion, please contact Marjorie Javier by email at Marjorie@theLOC.ca or phone 905-671-3969.
Newton Group Ltd. has begun 2020 with a clear vision and a clear new website to showcase their vertically integrated approach to redefining typical methods of construction.
Their areas of expertise, as defined on their Home page, is the Design-Build of Parking Structures, Net-Zero Buildings, Industrial, Commercial and Institutional projects.
Please click here to read more about it.
Congratulations to Mike Moore Construction Ltd. which has just received their CORTM re-certification (Cycle 3) with the best score ever at 90.13%! Quite an achievement for one of the earliest supporters of CORTM certification! Congratulations!
The latest OEL Newsletter is now available. Click here to access it.
Concrete Ontario is pleased to report that the Provincial Government shares our position that construction is an essential service in the province of Ontario, and that the concrete industry is a critical supplier of raw materials to the construction industry.
Concrete is the most used construction material in the world, and the majority of construction in Ontario depends on cement and concrete. As a local product, our industry provides local jobs that support families across our province.
Please click here to review the information.
Both Ontario and Québec have released this evening March 23 additional details as to what 'essential' businesses will be allowed to stay open.
In a sign of the tumultuous times we are experiencing we have different directions being taken with Québec shutting down most construction by only allowing a specified list of essential construction services and projects to continue while in Ontario the construction industry's ICI (Institutional, Commercial, Industrial) and residential sectors have been deemed essential and will not be shut down.
Click here to read the newsletter.
COVID-19 has created an unexpected sequence of events of enormous scale and speed, and the resulting uncertainty around potential impacts. In these unprecedented times, information is a valuable resource. To help our clients and business partners navigate this situation, we have centralized all of our COVID-19 related materials and information about webinars into one main Knowledge Centre.
Beginning today, to help you quickly access these materials we will be sending weekly summaries, a snapshot listing the latest bulletins, blogs and other communications. In order to share information with our clients as quickly as possible, many of our bulletins are currently available in English only, however, the French translations will be provided as soon as possible on the COVID-19 Knowledge Centre.
Provided by Fasken
On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Government of Ontario issued Ontario Regulation 73/20 further to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. E.9. The Regulation suspended any limitation period under any statute, rule, by-law or order of the Government of Ontario. The suspension of limitation periods is “for the duration of the emergency” and retroactive to March 16, 2020.
Please click here to read the full article.
Provided by McMillan
Sherrard Kuzz has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19. Please click here to get more information.
A high number of Canadians are applying for Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits due to an interruption in earnings caused by layoffs, sick leave, quarantine, and terminations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic disruption.
Click here to read the report from Fasken.
Provided by Cleveland Clinic