The COVID-19 fight: By working together, we will be victorious

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Clive Thurston

By Clive Thurston

President, Ontario General Contractors’ Association

To all of our members who been striving without rest to ensure that their workers and their sites are safe, as well as ensuring the future jobs of their employees, thank you.

All of this is taking a toll on everybody, and anything that can be done to assist to ease the strain of these efforts is greatly appreciated. That is why we are extremely pleased to hear last Friday (April 9) that the Attorney General heard our message and was going to amend the regulation to exclude the Construction Act, so that the limitations contained in that Act would continue and people could receive their holdbacks.

Keeping money flowing in these turbulent times is vital for us to achieve not only success in battling this pandemic, but ensuring that the lives of our workers are protected and that they have a future when this comes to an end, and it will come to an end.

When we were first notified of the problem in regards to the lifting of limitations, we reached out quickly to many of our friends within the government. Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton and his staff immediately responded and asked us to provide solutions which we did. Vic Fideli worked tirelessly in the background delivering our message to government. To all the many other members, staffers, and the Premier’s office who worked to respond to the industry’s concerns, my members and I want to say thank you.

The battle continues to defeat this enemy that has so negatively affected our industry, but we as construction professionals never give up, we never believe in failure. We do not believe that the end cannot be achieved. We are indomitable and ready to face these challenges moving forward. I want to thank the partnership of the CDAO (Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario) and the CEC (Construction Employers Coalition) whose strength and unity has proven to be a clear and vital voice to government in achieving success that will help everybody.

We will shortly be joining the government in a roundtable discussion to talking about a number of topics, including ongoing health and safety efforts, further clarity to what is an essential service, discussing what can be done to help us through this, and just as importantly, we will be recommending a task force of industry and government to discuss how we come out of this trial.

There is no doubt that once work begins, it will not be as it was before. Changes will be permanent and it will take time to ramp up, to bring our supply chain back online, to get our subtrades up and running to ensure that the contractors, developers and others can move forward, and begin rebuilding the economy of Ontario. There is no question that the one industry that is going to lead the way is construction, and to do that we must all work together in a collaborative and cooperative manner to ensure that we are able to succeed.

Once again, I want to thank all of you who have stepped up to support this industry, to support this province in addressing the challenge of this pandemic. By working together, we will be victorious.

Clive Thurston is president of the Ontario General Contractors’ Association.

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