Message from James Barry to IBEW Members

RECENT NEWS: James Barry Responds to Decision of Provincial Government to Deem Construction as Essential

Read the letter here: IBEW Response to Ontario Govt Re: Construction Workplaces as Essential Workplaces

UPDATE: April 4, 12:58:30 PM

Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:

Yesterday’s announcement from the Ontario Premier concerning the shut down of private sector industrial and commercial construction will have a profound impact on many of you. However, given the growing threat of this pandemic, I think most of us will understand that worker health and safety must be the priority.

Earlier yesterday, the province’s top medical experts outlined the risks ahead if restrictive measures were not taken. Clearly lives are at stake and we are all being asked to do our part. Being temporarily laid off during these uncertain times is difficult but we will be doing everything we can to make sure you have all the information necessary to access employment insurance quickly and all other government resources that have been made available as a result of the pandemic. Please contact your local union business manager if you have any questions regarding these programs.

For those that will still be working at construction sites which have been designated as essential, I am working closely with the provincial government to advocate for increased enforcement to ensure those job sites are safe and abide by all the health guidelines. I am happy to say that the government has listened and has announced it is immediately increasing the number of enforcement officers and the inspections that will take place on work sites that remain open.

I will continue to press the government for changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), for the very apparent need for general contractors, project managers and builders do a much better job with regard to overall hygiene at construction sites across Ontario. I am certain that the announced 60 added enforcement officers will not only help in the current situation with hygiene and sanitation but also have a long term beneficial impact on job sites.This issue will continue to be a top priority for the IBEW/CCO and other building trade affiliates.

On my own behalf I want to commend both Premier Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development for their accessibility during this incredibly busy time. I have spoken to them personally on numerous occasions over the past weeks and they have listened and responded to my concerns.

I’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario, (ECAO) specifically Graeme Aitken, all our partner local ECA offices and naturally our contractors. Together we have worked diligently to keep our members as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our contractors will be facing the difficult consequences of construction site shutdowns and the many issues that must be addressed.

The IBEW CCO office will continue to send out important government announcements and information to your business managers as it becomes available. This information will also be posted on our website. I will also continue to work with the government to ensure we are part of any consultations that impact our membership and industry at large.

These are unprecedented times for our industry, but I know that together we will get through them. I am proud of the great work we deliver as IBEW members and I know we will return to the jobsites we build even stronger. We may be apart but we are not alone.

Please stay healthy.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario