Councillor Josh Matlow

Open Letter to Premier Ford: Did Public Health Experts Deem Residential Construction An Essential Workplace?

Hon. Doug Ford

Premier of Ontario

Legislative Building, Queen’s Park.

Toronto, ON

M7A 1A1


Re: Changes to City of Toronto Act regulations concerning construction by-laws

Dear Premier Ford,

I am writing to respectfully request that you provide the public with a rationale for Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act concerning construction by-laws. While I, like most Torontonians, recognize the importance of allowing for construction associated with healthcare during this pandemic to occur “at any time of the day or night,” as stated in Limitation 1, the measures concerning other construction appears to run counter to safe and sensible policy during this crisis.

Limitation 2 allows for any “construction activity in the City between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.” Given that your government has already included most current construction projects on the Essential Workplaces List, yesterday’s regulatory move could put further stress on workers and communities.

The guidelines for construction safety issued by your government does not require employers to take the steps that public health officials suggest are necessary for keeping workers, or anyone, safe. While some construction companies may have good intentions toward their workers, on many job sites it is almost impossible to maintain 2 metres of physical space due to group lifts or other tasks that involve support. Moreover, the use of port-o-potties is not prohibited and running water is not required, making it difficult to follow hygiene practices recommended to limit the spread of Covid -19.

The risks potentially posed by continuing to allow, and expand, residential construction do not stop at the construction site. Construction workers have families, friends, and neighbours who could also impacted.

Further, many construction sites are adjacent to, or within, existing residential communities. The wording of the updated Essential Workplaces list would allow construction to continue on apartment infill projects and refurbishments within buildings themselves. Allowing construction from early in the morning until 10pm, while people are being asked to stay home, has the potential to put residents at risk of infection while greatly impacting their quality of life and mental health by subjecting them to constant noise.

To fight this pandemic it is essential that every decision be made in the interest of public health and saving lives. Was your decision to declare residential construction sites essential workplaces made on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health?

Please immediately provide the public health rationale for the inclusion of residential construction on the Essential Workplaces list or have it removed to protect workers and communities during this unprecedented pandemic.


Councillor Josh Matlow


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