Women in Construction

Ontario law aims to improve conditions for women on jobsites


May 8, 2024
By Government of Ontario
Presented by:
Canadian Contractor
Women in Construction

The Ontario government is introducing the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024, building on its previous four Working for Workers acts. The act contains a suite of measures to support workers, including requiring that menstrual products be provided on larger construction sites and mandating that washrooms are clean and sanitary. The legislation, the first of its kind in Canada, aims to make the skilled trades more accessible to women and support women at work.

“Under Premier Ford, our government is tackling the generational labour shortage previous governments left in their wake. That means we need all hands on deck – but when women represent only one in ten workers in the skilled trades, we have one hand tied behind our back,” said David Piccini, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “That’s why our government is introducing first-in-Canada changes to encourage women to start a career in the skilled trades and reach their full potential. Because an economy that doesn’t work for women, doesn’t work at all.”

For the first time in Canada, the Ontario government will make regulatory changes to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to require menstrual products be provided on larger construction sites. The government will also propose legislative and regulatory changes to require employers at both construction sites and other workplaces to require that washrooms are kept clean and sanitary and maintain records of washroom cleaning.

Ontario’s proposed amendments would add virtual harassment to the definitions of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ensuring that workplace policies to address harassment in the workplace also cover online harassment.

The government will also engage with survivors of harassment, legal experts and other stakeholders to identify the most effective legislative or regulatory means to create a duty to act for employers where investigations have identified workplace harassment has occurred.

“Today’s announcement is another example of action our government is taking to make careers in construction and the skilled trades more inclusive and welcoming for women,” said Charmaine Williams, associate minister of women’s social and economic opportunity. “By further protecting their health and safety at work, the Working for Workers bill will increase women’s access to rewarding careers that both pay well and help create the stronger, more diverse workforce we need to build a better Ontario.”

Additional measures to address safety in construction will include a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector and a consultation on expanding the types of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to be provided on construction projects.