OGCA calls on provincial government to reopen commercial construction industry

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario General Contractors’ Association (OGCA) has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking the provincial government to reopen the commercial construction industry.

OGCA president Giovanni Cautillo sent the following note to the premier last Friday (May 28).

RE: It is Time to Re-Open Commercial Construction Across Ontario

I am writing to you on behalf of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) regarding the pressing need to fully open all of Ontario’s institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) construction industry. It is our opinion that there is no rationale why commercial construction cannot safely restart and take full advantage of the province’s short construction season.

ICI general contractors deliver over $12 billion in construction to Ontario’s GDP annually. Commercial construction, which makes up approximately 16% of our industry and employs about 82,000 persons, is one of the safest construction sectors. With many contractors facing significant financial uncertainty, several of our members are struggling to stay in businesses and have cut staff during this difficult time.

The construction industry has remained one of the safest industries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The WSIB’s COVID-19 case count includes 548 construction claims, two per cent of all industries, though construction is approximately 11 per cent per cent of the workforce covered. This indicates that a construction worker is more than five times less likely to contract COVID-19 on the job than other Ontario workers.

Many of our members that have remained open in the industrial and institutional sectors have implemented rapid testing as an effective screening tool. As of last week, over 190 construction firms have implemented this and have experienced only 349 positive tests. ICI construction is identifying asymptomatic workers before they can spread COVID-19 to their co-workers and families.

When opened, most major commercial projects will feature rapid testing screening that will further protect workers as they return to work. In the past week, ElllisDon, Modern Niagara and Flynn Construction have operated an extremely successful clinic that vaccinated 15,000 persons to help meet industry’s needs. As we move into June, most construction workers have now received their first vaccination shot and are in an even stronger position to remain safe and reduce the spread.

Premier, you have our assurance that the commercial sector of the industry is prepared to exceed the requirements to keep our workers safe. We ask you to take the next step and open the commercial construction industry.

Signed by OGCA president Giovanni Cautillo.

Commercial Construction Reopen - Premier - Final

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