Ontario plans to require women only bathrooms on large construction sites

15 Mar 2023 | Canada | 17 |
Ontario plans to require women only bathrooms on large construction sites

The Ontario government says they’re “working for workers” by making washrooms on construction sites clean, safe, and private in the hopes of making the skilled trades more accessible to women.

Labour minister Monte McNaughton announced in London, Ont., Wednesday that he is proposing to amend rules about bathrooms on construction sites so that the government will now require at least one women-only toilet on large construction sites.

McNaughton is set to announce Wednesday that he is proposing to amend rules about bathrooms on construction sites to make them cleaner, safer and provide some for women only

Additionally, he said the ministry is pushing Ontario to further improve portable washrooms as a whole by requiring them to be private and completely enclosed and have adequate lighting as well as hand sanitizer as running water is not reasonably possible. The number of toilets will also be doubled on most jobsites.

Some portable toilets are only about three-quarters of an adult’s height with no roof, McNaughton said. Those would be banned.

It would also extend the good-repair requirement to urinals and cleanup facilities, such as stations with sinks.

Keeping toilets in a state of good repair is already required under current rules, but McNaughton said that “clearly, that’s not happening.”

Not all heroes wear capes, they also wear construction hats.

Today I announced that we're doubling the number of toilets on job sites and ensuring they are clean, safe & maintained. 🚾

We're also ensuring women have properly fitting equipment like uniforms.👷‍♀️👩‍🏭 pic.twitter.com/pPubmI0Lpc

— Monte McNaughton (@MonteMcNaughton) March 15, 2023

The news follows a Ministry of Labour bathroom inspection blitz last month at more than 1,800 construction sites. It found 244 violations, the most common being no toilets provided, a lack of privacy, or a lack of cleaning; “40 per cent of the violations were for not having washrooms or toilets on site,” McNaughton stated.

He stressed during the news conference that ”Access to a washroom is a basic human dignity and something every worker should have the right to.”

According to the ministry, there are nearly 600,000 construction workers in Ontario, but only one in 10 are women.

“Careers in construction offer six-figure salaries with pensions and benefits, and it is an injustice only 10 per cent of them are filled by women,” McNaughton said.

However, he said that there are 28 per cent more female apprenticeship registrations compared to a year ago, with a 23 per cent increase in overall apprenticeship registrations year over year.

Last month, McNaughton highlighted stories of women in the skilled trades with stories about deplorable bathroom conditions on his Twitter account.

“It’s just a big pile of feces,” said iron worker Mahee de Repentigny in one of the featured videos.

“No flushing, no water, no soap, no paper, no nothing. Might as well just go outside at that point.”

Repentigny concluded that she will sometimes have to leave work to find a Tim Hortons bathroom because the toilet on the site feels unsafe.

These changes proposed by the ministry, if approved, “would make the skilled trades more accessible to women,” by not only ensuring that they have access to at least one women’s-only washroom on jobsites, but also properly fitting equipment such as uniforms, boots and safety harnesses.

“Workplaces that are safer and more equitable help increase women’s participation in the workforce,” said Charmaine Williams, associate minister of women’s social and economic opportunity.

“Our government is taking action to remove barriers and empower women to excel in sectors where they are underrepresented.”

Proposed amendments to the province’s Construction Projects Regulation, if approved, would “explicitly require that personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing be properly fitted to women and workers with diverse body types.”

Ontario’s construction sector will need to hire an additional 72,000 workers over the next six years due to retirements and expected job growth, according to the ministry, and an estimated 100,000 by 2030.

In regards to the proposed changes to construction site bathrooms, McNaughton said “these are men and women, not livestock, and it’s important that they get the respect that they deserve.

“If we’re going to encourage men and women into the skilled trades, then we need to ensure that we have proper facilities for them to use.”

The new rules would come into force on July 1, if approved and filed by the government.

-with files from The Canadian Press.

by Global News