A new omnibus bill introduced by the Ontario government on Monday will mandate that menstrual products be provided on all large construction sites throughout the province. 

According to Labour Minister David Piccini, the requirement will apply to construction sites of 20 or more workers where the job is expected to last a minimum of three months.

Titled the Working for Workers bill, it marks the fifth instalment of government labour legislation introduced by Premier Doug Ford’s administration. 

The bill also includes a requirement that all construction site washrooms be kept clean by employees, with documentation of routine cleaning and sanitary check-ups.  

The legislation aims to make the skilled trades more accessible to women and support those already in the labour force.

According to a press release from the Government of Ontario, this legislation is “the first of its kind in Canada.”

“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.”

An Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen survey from 2022 found that women only accounted for one in 10 construction workers and half of the respondents cited higher sanitary standards as an incentive to attract more women into the trades. 

The Ontario government will also be making regulatory changes to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act for the first time to propose amendments would add “virtual harassment to the definitions of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment” in the act “ensuring that workplace policies to address harassment in the workplace also cover online harassment.”

The Ontario government said it will also work with survivors of harassment, legal experts and others to create the most effective legislation and or regulatory means to enact a “duty to act for employers where investigations have identified workplace harassment has occurred.”

Additional measures have been added to address construction safety, including a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities that have occurred in the sector and investing in life-saving equipment like defibrillators to be accessible on-site. 

“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.”

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