Canada's construction industry is responding to COVID-19
The health, safety and well-being of our workers, their families and friends, and the communities we operate in is the top priority of the more than 20,000 member firms of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA). This has never been more true than it is right now.
The construction sector is also one of Canada's largest employers and a major contributor to the country's economic success. The industry, 70 per cent of which is are Small and Medium Enterprises, employs more than 1.5 million Canadians and contributes 7% of Canada's Gross Domestic Product. The projects we deliver are fundamental to Canadians' quality of life and to the success of our country. In many cases, they support the delivery of essential services, including the clean water we drink, energy infrastructure and the power grid, critical transportation infrastructure, and the hospitals and other health care facilities where we receive care.
As part of normal business practice and operations, the construction industry already has in place and implements highly-disciplined health and safety protocols on construction sites and at manufacturing facilities. In the current environment, our members have significantly amplified these protocols and implemented new measures based on recommendations from governments and public health authorities.
At this time, the CCA recommends that construction and related manufacturing activities remain operational.
We will continue to actively evaluate this position as the COVID-19 situation evolves and in support of health and government directives.
On behalf of our members, the CCA urgently calls on the Government of Canada for the following actions and information.
- Specific details on how companies and individuals can access the financial relief announced by the Government of Canada. This is critical as it allows business owners to focus on health and safety without the pressing fear of business failure.
- Consistent guidelines and best practices from public health authorities across the country to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all workers on construction sites and at manufacturing facilities.
- A clear statement, supported by a commitment to future legislation, which addresses how the Government of Canada will treat delays, project disruptions and other COVID-19 related costs under federal contracts, as well as federal leadership in active dialogue with provincial authorities on a consistent approach to these issues.
- Prioritization of critical infrastructure and collaborative work with industry to prioritize allocation of essential resources, including manufacturing capacity to provide needed materials and equipment.
- Instructions to Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada to urgently engage with industry and the financial services sector to deploy additional domestic credit to mitigate the short-term financial impact of COVID-19 related project delays and costs.
This is a challenging time for all Canadians. The construction sector stands ready to support the Government of Canada as it manages the COVID-19 crisis. This includes re-directing efforts to higher priority projects like hospitals or, if directed, an orderly and thoughtful stoppage of some or all work in consultation with the industry.