Journal of Commerce | Angela Gismondi | March 27, 2020
he Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is implementing a number of measures to help its members, the industry and the government during the COVID-19 pandemic including releasing its first version of the COVID-19 Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites, which it encourages all construction firms to implement.
“While we have asked the federal government to keep construction sites operational to deliver on projects that build and maintain our communities, it is with the unequivocal understanding that sites are compliant with health guidelines,” explained Mary Van Buren, president of the CCA, in an email to the Daily Commercial News.
“Compliant sites should be open and those that cannot consistently comply with measures and guidelines of public health authorities should shut down.”
The document provides best practices and a consistent national approach for employers and employees to follow in order to protect themselves and the public at large and help minimize the spread of the coronavirus so that work can be continued safely, indicates a CCA release. These protocols include measures on prevention, detection and rapid response based on information and recommendations from respected public health authorities.
“We are engaging with our partner associations on a daily basis to share best practices in support of health directives to keep construction safe,” said Van Buren. “These materials are being published on CCA’s and our partner association sites and being proactively shared with our 20,000 members.”
CCA has also been in contact with the federal government to help at a national level.
“We will support the Government of Canada as it manages the COVID-19 crisis, including re-directing efforts to higher priority projects like hospitals, of directed, an orderly and thoughtful stoppage in consultation with the industry,” Van Buren stated.
On behalf of member firms and individuals, CCA is asking the federal government for more details on how to access the financial relief announced in the stimulus package and more information on delays and disruptions in general.
“Our members are looking for a clear statement, supported by a commitment to future legislation, which addresses how the federal government will treat delays, project disruptions and other COVID-19 related costs under federal contracts,” Van Buren said. “Specific details on how companies and individuals can access financial relief would also be helpful in allowing business owners to focus on the health and safety of their workers.”
The construction industry is made up of mostly small, family-owned businesses, who do not have significant financial reserves, she pointed out.
“Delays to projects is causing financial stress to all of our member firms who employ 1. 5 million people in Canada,” Van Buren stated.
The pandemic is negatively impacting construction as well as the economy and all industries, she said.
“Many firms are doing everything they can to conform with health standards, keep their employees working and deliver on project commitments, however, supplies of materials and equipment are beginning to be impacted, productivity is declining and there is continuing uncertainty,” she noted.
“Businesses will play a critical role in recovery by protecting the health and safety of employees and the public today and limiting the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and communities. We need to ensure that the capacity of the industry is intact to complete the many infrastructure projects already identified and to support the new projects that will arise.”
As the situation is changing rapidly, CCA will be continuously updating the COVID-19 Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites document and publishing new versions as required. CCA also plans to keep an open dialogue with stakeholders “to ensure the industry remains proactive to any emerging risks” and welcomes the support and endorsement of the document.