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LIUNA Local 183
COVID-19 Letter to MLTSD Minister from BM
COVID-19 Letter to MLTSD Minister from BM
3/24/2020 2:21:07 PM
March 24, 2020 1:52 PM

VIA EMAIL

Honourable Minister Monte McNaughton
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
14th Floor, 400 University Ave
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1T7

Dear Minister McNaughton:

Re: COVID-19 and LiUNA, Local 183

On behalf of Local 183’s over 58,000 hard working men and women, thank-you for what you are doing, and your staff are doing, at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (“MLTSD”) during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As you know many of our job sites and work locations have been designated essential services, as of yesterday, by Premier Ford.

My purpose in writing to you now on behalf of the great membership of Local 183 is to bring certain issues to your attention, so that hopefully your office can assist and provide much needed guidance and assistance.

i. MLTSD Inspectors

We understand that MLTSD inspectors are only operating from their homes/offices via phone and only go to job sites for fatalities or critical accidents. All other concerns including monitoring for compliance and follow up after compliance orders are issued and work refusals, among other things, are all dealt with over the phone.

Now is the time for active, in person, enforcement.

Our members who continue to work are scared and rightly so. This is why, more than ever, MLTSD inspectors need to be in the field and protecting workers from unscrupulous contractors and employers. Our own Union Representatives on a daily basis say working conditions are deplorable and far short of OHSA requirements.

(ii) COVID-19 Directions and Guidelines Must Be Issued

We also implore upon you and your staff to set out written guidelines and requirements for contractors and employers to follow when dealing with COVID-19. The general requirement provisions of OHSA in, for example, section 25(2) and section 29 are wholly inadequate given the crisis conditions that we are now operating. Employers need to know, in writing, what they can and cannot do and, more importantly, what they must do to protect workers.

We were shocked to learn that the MLTSD has no directions or notices to the constructors, owners and employers about what their COVID-19 requirements are and what must be followed on construction job sites and workplaces. There is nothing about COVID-19 and worker rights on any MLTSD website.

The MLTSD should, at the very least, be implementing all Health Canada and Public Health directions for safe practices into the employment arena. Right now, most contractors and employers are doing nothing about social distancing of workers but rather are directing that they work in close proximity, which is inconsistent with health directions. Further, many contractors and employers aren’t providing warm soap and water and vital sanitary conditions.

(iii) PPE and Sanitizing Communal Equipment and Transmission Points

Our members are being forced to work without any or proper personal protective equipment (PPE) -which is critical now, more than ever. In one case our members were told to buy their own after the employer gathered up masks and locked them away.

Little is being done in the area of sanitizing communal equipment and key transmission points, where the virus can easily come in contact and spread-including door handles, tabletops and other hard surfaces.

(iv) Generally

Our concern and the concern of our entire membership is that being deemed an essential service will be construed to mean that health and safety requirements don’t apply. That is just wrong.

The present situation that workers are required to work in mandates nothing short of clear and unequivocal direction by the MLTSD to contractors and employers about their obligations to workers in dealing with COVID-19.

If one worker gets infected on a job site or workplace it will be one too many. If a worker dies from doing their job and needlessly being infected by COVID-19, that would be catastrophic.

There is no time to waste.

We all must zealously safeguard and protect all workers and the countless men and women of Local 183 who have already been put in harm’s way by having to work during the shutdown or during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We need your help and the help of MLTSD staff now.

On behalf of all members of Local 183,

Yours truly,
Jack Oliveira
Business Manager
cc: The Honourable Premier Doug Ford
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Relatd Articles
3/17/2020 6:13:49 PM - COVID-19 Q1: Is the union planning on shutting down job sites?
3/17/2020 6:24:05 PM - COVID-19 Q2: Is my job site safe?

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