Working for Workers Act supports women working on construction sites


By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

For the first time in Canada, the Ontario government will make regulatory changes to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to require menstrual products to be provided on larger construction sites.

The government will also propose legislative and regulatory changes to require employers at both construction sites and other workplaces to require that washrooms are kept clean and sanitary and maintain records of washroom cleaning.

“Today’s Working for Workers Five bill includes welcome measures that will improve conditions on job sites across the construction industry in Ontario,” said Karen Pullen, chair, Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen (OBCT). “Clean, functioning washrooms should be the right of every worker, male or female.

“Providing menstrual products on every job site is a tangible way to level the playing field for women on site and we look forward to continuing to work with the government to roll out these new measures to ensure they have the intended impact across the province.”

Ontario’s proposed amendments would add virtual harassment to the definitions of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ensuring that workplace policies to address harassment in the workplace also cover online harassment.

The government will also engage with survivors of harassment, legal experts and other stakeholders to identify the most effective legislative or regulatory means to create a duty to act for employers where investigations have identified workplace harassment has occurred.

If passed, the government’s fifth Working for Workers Act will protect the health and dignity of workers and frontline heroes, impose tougher penalties on exploitative bad actors and open up new pathways for people to join the skilled trades. By continuing to put workers first, the government is building a brighter future for all Ontarians and ensuring our province remains the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Additional measures to address safety in construction will include a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector and a consultation on expanding the types of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to be provided on construction projects.

Approximately one in 10 construction workers in Ontario are women, and approximately four per cent of workers in Ontario’s construction skilled trades-related occupations are women.

Half of respondents to the Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen 2022 survey cited better washroom facilities as something needed to make construction more appealing to women.

“The Ontario General Contractors Association and our members applaud Minister Piccini for elevating the health and safety of all workers through the fifth Working for Workers bill and taking action on a serious topic in the most effective and efficient means possible,” said Giovanni Cautillo, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association. “All workers must feel safe at work and that includes clean and sanitary workplace washrooms, including menstrual products, protection from harassment, regardless of the medium, and having the correct equipment on construction sites to safely perform the work.”


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