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Coronavirus: Ontario ramps up essential construction projects, including hospital expansions

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario orders further workplace closures, halt to many construction projects
WATCH (April 3): The Ontario government has announced further business closures and a shutdown of many construction sites in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “My government is prepared to take every step possible and today I’m asking you to do the same,” Premier Doug Ford said in an update Friday afternoon.

The Ontario government says it is accelerating the construction of essential projects in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Labour, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

Essential construction projects, Ford said, include work on new hospital builds and expansions as well as COVID-19 assessment centres. He also said construction hours will also be expanded.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario orders further workplace closures, halt to many construction projects

“During this escalating crisis, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, particularly to properly care for those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other patients who require critical care,” said Ford.

In response to these new measures, the government will be temporarily limiting local noise bylaws since construction will be permitted at all hours.

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READ MORE: Ontario conducting fewer than 3,000 COVID-19 tests despite daily capacity of 13,000

Ford also said the extended hours will also allow for shifts to be more staggered and will limit the number of workers in one spot on the site.

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The government said it would be adding more inspectors to be deployed to sites to ensure workplace safety and health measures. During Wednesday’s news conference, Ford put the call out for any retired inspectors who want to help.

If anyone has any complaints or safety concerns, McNaughton urged people to call 1-877-202-0008 and report it.

READ MORE: Ontario construction group renews call for site shutdowns after province updates guidelines

Ford has repeatedly stated that if a worker feels unsafe on any site that they are free to walk off and would face no penalties.

“Our government is doing everything in its power to make sure workers on the job are safe during this pandemic,” said McNaughton.

“That means more inspections, more inspectors, more phone lines, and more people to take your calls.”

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