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This Week in Construction Law: November 22 – 26, 2021

In international news, U.S. construction groups are complaining about the uneven effect they believe vaccine mandates will have on their constituent companies. While the groups believe in the efficacy of the vaccines, they note that since labour supply in the construction sector is tight and companies under 100 employees are exempt from the vaccine mandates, vaccine-hesitant employees (who comprise 43% of all construction workers) are expected to decamp for smaller companies.

In Federal news, the Government of Canada has introduced legislation that will amend the Canada Labour Code to provide ten days of paid sick leave per year to workers in the federally regulated private sector, among other changes. According to the government press release, there are approximately 955,000 people affected by this legislation, amounting to about 6% of all employees in Canada. 87% work in companies with 100 or more employees.

In Federal news, a national debate continues over the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will once built transport natural gas from near Dawson Creek in the east to Kitimat on the Pacific Ocean. The pipeline, which is more than 50% complete, is the subject of protests and blockades in and around Wet’suwet’en territory, despite a recent injunction barring protests from preventing the pipeline’s construction from continuing.

In Ontario, more than 30 inspectors tasked with enforcing credentials in the skilled trades are to be laid off after the Ontario government merged the Ontario College of Trades into the Ministry of Labour. This breaks a promise by Doug Ford that nobody would lose their jobs as a consequence of the reorganization.

In Ontario, Ottawa City Council has approved a municipal plan involving significant city expansion, including a 445-hectare satellite community near Carlsbad Springs. The plan also calls for significant densification: more than half of all new homes will have to be built within existing neighbourhoods as part of a regulatory philosophy that emphasizes “15 minute neighbourhoods” where a car isn’t necessary because all daily needs are within a 15-minute walk from home.

In Ontario, an employee of a construction aggregate business in York has been charged with fraud after providing fraudulent invoices to aggregate purchasers and redirecting the money, amounting to more than $2 million stolen over five years, into his own bank account.

In British Columbia, provincial legislation amending the Employment Standards Act will come into effect on January 1, 2022, that entitles all workers in British Columbia, including part-time workers, to five paid sick days per year. A provincial press release observed that during a two-month period at the height of the pandemic, workplace outbreaks led to nearly 200 businesses being shut down in the Fraser Health region alone.

In British Columbia, structural repairs have begun on Danbrook One, an 11-storey rental building in Langford that has been unoccupied for two years due to structural deficiencies identified during an independent review of the building’s engineering. Repair work is expected to be completed in early 2022.

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