Construction sites in Ontario

Dear Editor,

I am a supervisor for a local contractor. We currently have contracts with a general contractor to wire two new OPP detachments, one in Fort Frances, one in Moosonee. We are the only local contractor on site, with most but not all coming from Thunder Bay or Winnipeg.
The recent developments involving COVID-19 has many of us on the jobsites feeling uncomfortable at best. Because of its remoteness, the Moosonee project is in the process of temporarily shutting down. But what about the other eight sites, including Fort Frances and Marathon?
I know for a fact that there have been workers at the Fort Frances and Marathon sites who have been to the Caribbean and Mexico within the last two weeks. They were both removed from the sites for their 14 day isolation only after having been on site for a couple of days. In our case, partly because since March 8, when our guy came back from Mexico, a lot has changed. But the government seems unconcerned about domestic flying for some reason. On March 8, there were fewer reported cases of COVID in Mexico than there was on March 15 in the Ottawa region. The reason I bring up Ottawa, is two workers flew from Ottawa on March 15 to Winnipeg to come to the Fort Frances site and start working on the 17th. And as we all know, the unreported COVID-19 infections are many times greater. And who is carrying it around without knowing or showing symptoms? Why are these workers allowed on site? Just because they’re from Canada? Ontario? There is apparently more workers coming from Toronto in the days ahead to start working on the Fort Frances site. And there will be more to follow after that. How many cases of COVID are in the GTA? The logic that someone who flies home from the Caribbean has to self isolate for 14 days, but someone flying from Toronto to Winnipeg or Thunder Bay has no such restrictions is mind boggling to me. Construction sites aren’t the cleanest of places at the best of times, yet we are pushing forward in fear of litigation if we don’t honour our portion of the contract. I want to make it clear, I don’t fault the workers, nor the contractors. They/we are doing what we’re told. I’ve talked to many guys on our site, some guys on other sites. Nobody wants to be working construction right now. Imagine 30 people in one building from all corners of the province, some having recently been on airplanes from areas of growing concern. With barrel fans blowing in the building to circulate the heat. How is this safe right now? The government can shut down EB Games because there were some people standing in line for a couple of hours. But they can’t stop their own businesses (don’t forget what the first two letters of OPP stand for) with 30 people at the very least walking by each other for 40 hours a week. Sometimes working side by side, shoulder to shoulder for hours on end. And that’s just on site. These workers are also out and about in our community. They need to sleep somewhere, eat etc. How would the residents of Fort Frances feel about this? There is a gold mine in our district that is closed down except for essential employees. Smart decision. Yes it’s a larger scale than these OPP jobs, but you could argue that the exact same conditions apply. People coming from various regions, working side by side, living in our communities. With the Ontario governments list of “essential” services released on Monday night, there appears to be no help on the horizon. And after seeing the length of the list, I know we are not alone.
At the end of the day, we all know what this is about, why it’s still “business as usual” on our jobsite and elsewhere…money. So my question is, what is the monetary value the government of Ontario puts on a human life?

Kris Kadikoff