Premier vows to shut down unsafe construction sites during pandemic

Doug Ford meeting with Sarnia-Lambton residents April 20, 2018. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, BlackburnNews)

Ontario’s premier vowed Thursday to shut down construction sites “in a heartbeat” if they’re found to be unsafe.

Doug Ford made the comment in a wide-ranging morning interview with Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM).

He said worker health and safety is a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Anyone who shows up on a job site that doesn’t feel they’re safe or there is a healthy environment, then they should walk off the job site,” said Ford. “We have over 400 inspectors going across the province and I won’t hesitate, in ten seconds, I don’t care if it’s a billion, $10 billion project, we will shut these sites down in a heartbeat.”

There have been concerns expressed locally about Sarnia’s large industry, specifically NOVA Chemical’s major expansion at the Corunna plant and a maintenance turnaround at Imperial. Also this week Shell Canada reported that an out-of-town contractor who visited the Sarnia site later tested positive for COVID-19. Lambton Public Health was investigating to confirm that.

Premier Ford said they’re in contact with the trades about residential construction sites as well.

“They’re assuring me that the social distancing, especially on residential, one person will be working in the room at a time, as they leave another trade will come in. They’re assuring me they have hand sanitizer and a safe work environment.”

The premier also said the manufacturing of medical supplies and equipment including ventilators and masks, will be ramping up in Ontario within the coming weeks.

“We’ll make sure we go through our Ontario health division the Ministry of Health. They have a good scope on which areas need it but we’re going to be producing thousands of them. We’re going to not only produce for Ontario, we’re producing for all of Canada. We talked to all 12 other premiers and they’re relying on Ontario, the manufacturing engine of Canada to help them out.”

Ford assured tenants, worried about being able to pay their rent next week due to job loss or reduced hours, won’t be thrown out on the street.

“Landlords, I’m sorry but they’re going to have to work with us, over the next few months but evictions won’t be enforced, I can tell you that right now. My job is to protect the 14-and-a-half million people of this great province and that’s what I’m going to do at all costs,” Ford said.

The premier said he can’t wait to get back to Sarnia-Lambton when we get this behind us, and he expressed confidence the province will come back with a vengeance when the crisis ends.

-With files from Sue Storr