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Province to require separate women's washrooms at construction sites

'Access to a washroom is a basic human dignity and something every worker should have the right to'
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The Ontario government wants to ensure women access to at least one women’s-only washroom on construction jobsites.

"There are nearly 600,000 construction workers in Ontario, but only one in 10 are women. These changes, if approved, would make the skilled trades more accessible to women by and properly fitting equipment such as uniforms, boots and safety harnesses," says a news release issued today.

“Access to a washroom is a basic human dignity and something every worker should have the right to,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour. “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."

The government will also require portable washrooms 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.

“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.

Proposed amendments to the 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.

"Given the target that's been set to increase the number of women in the trades from 4.5 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030, we need to make every effort now to start attracting women to a work environment that caters to women and their specific needs," adds Natasha Ferguson, CEO of Ethelfox Construction. "These amendments are a welcome change and will assist in paving the way to a future where construction sites will be more inclusive and inviting for women.

Changes would come into force on July 1.