The construction industry is breathing a sigh of relief after emerging largely unaffected in the latest round of COVID-related restrictions from the Ontario government. But some medical experts say that might have been a mistake, given the dire COVID case projections announced Tuesday.
While rumours swirled that Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet had considered shutting down much of the $58-billion industry to help slow the rise in case counts, in the end, the majority of major projects can still continue.
However, there are exceptions: Construction projects involving office towers without any residential or retail component, strip malls, and residential construction jobs which hadn’t already started by Tuesday will all have to temporarily shut down operations.
“Absolutely, they could have come down a lot harder. I don’t think they should have, but they could have,” said Ian Cunningham, president of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations.
“Of course it was on the table. Everything was on the table,” Richard Lyall, president of RESCON, the residential construction industry’s main provincial trade association, said of an industry shutdown.
Cunningham pointed to statistics showing that less than one per cent of successful COVID-related Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims since the pandemic began have involved the construction industry. Of more than 10,000 COVID-related WSIB claims, 93 have been in construction, 11 of those in residential construction.
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