Friday , January 15 2021

Instructions ignored on construction sites

Construction sites that are swarming with people. Two small bottles of Purell at the entrance and no masks on the faces. This is what a number of construction workers we spoke to describe to us.

They all ask to remain anonymous, because the repercussions would be direct and final. “For sure I lose my job if my name gets out in the media,” one of them tells us.

Nicolas Girouard, building contractor

Photo Francis Halin

Nicolas Girouard, building contractor

This worker is currently working to renovate a hotel in downtown Montreal. “There are people from all over the site, Rive-Sud, Rive-Nord, Montreal. When I work in a unit, I lock the door, I don’t want people without masks to come in. “

Even if the Legault government asked construction contractors to slow down “to the essential”, this worker finds the opposite.

“There are even more people on the site than last week, new teams have just returned,” he said.

“Carpentry, plumbing, joint painters, drywall guys, painters, everyone is there at the same time. ”

Hotels, complete floors of office towers or new constructions, downtown Montreal is host to many very active construction sites, all the workers consulted assure us.

No drop in production

“It is up to each site to determine which operations are essential”, reminds the office of the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet.

This is the problem, according to the Federation of Quebec Workers (FTQ).

“It continues as if everything is essential. There was no reduction in production anywhere, ”says Daniel Boyer, the president of the union.

Quebec has been asking for a week for the “reduction of activities to the minimum necessary to ensure the fulfillment of commitments” on the sites.

At the Quebec Association of Construction and Housing Professionals (APCHQ), it is not known whether activities have been reduced. “At this time, I could not say it”, indicates François Bernier, vice-president of the organization.

The pursuit of commitments remains the watchword of the Association de la construction du Québec (ACQ).

“We haven’t changed our position for a week. We tell our members to exercise judgment as to the essential nature of the work, ”explains spokesperson Guillaume Houle.

Impossible to know when these commitments were made, of course. And neither the FTQ, nor the APCHQ, nor the ACQ, nor the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) have a precise idea of the number of construction sites in Quebec. .

“There is no census for construction sites”, they say to the cabinet of Jean Boulet.

Business is going well

If commercial construction is going at full speed, it is the same in residential.

” It’s overflowing. It is raging madness. People have time to renovate, so they call us. This week, I have 18 new customer requests. It’s stupid, ”says Nicolas Girouard, construction contractor.

He speaks of a wave of “people who want to renovate”, which also notes André Aubry, another construction contractor who does in the renovation.

“We will meet at least 20 clients in January, whereas in normal times it would be 2 or 3”, he says.

“We don’t want to say it too loudly, we are blessed, the demand is very high. “

–With the collaboration of Francis Halin

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