The Ontario government has proposed several new washroom initiatives that focus on facilities on construction sites, including moving to make site washrooms private, clean and safe.
Citing that only one in 10 of the nearly 600,000 construction workers in Ontario are women, the government says proposed changes like a requirement to have at least one women’s-only washroom on jobsites and properly fitting equipment such as uniforms, boots and safety harnesses, will make the skilled trades more accessible to women.
“We applaud measures that make all job sites more accessible and safer for all, including women,” said Andrew Regnerus, Ontario construction coordinator at CLAC. “Given the trades shortage, all barriers to entry and retention must be eliminated and this is an important step in the right direction.”
“Ensuring women have access to tools to reach their full potential in the construction industry will strengthen retention, eliminate barriers, attract talent and empower a stronger sense of belonging on-site,” stated Victoria Mancinelli, director of public relations, marketing and strategic partnerships at LiUNA.
If passed, the legislation would require washrooms on construction sites to be private and completely enclosed, and have adequate lighting and hand sanitizer (where running water is not reasonably possible). Additionally, the government is doubling the number of toilets on most jobsites.
“Access to a washroom is a basic human dignity and something every worker should have the right to,” said Monte McNaughton, the province’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “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… Everyone has the right to a safe and welcoming workplace.”
“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 – because when women succeed, Ontario succeeds.”
These changes are part of a larger package that expands on the actions introduced in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021 and 2022. If approved and filed, the proposed regulatory amendments would come into force on July 1, 2023.