March 20, 2020
Dear Premier McNeil,
We would like to bring forward the following considerations as our government contemplates public health, economic and civil policy decisions, specifically relating to the construction industry. The Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) recommends measures for the continuation of construction projects and does not support an industry-wide shutdown for the following reasons:
- Public safety is our priority. There are very real physical, public safety considerations and human resources that must be considered. As an example, some sites will take days, weeks and potentially months to secure and this needs to be considered as policy decisions are made.
- Our industry has an outstanding record for attention to safety and in recognizing the need to ensure the safety of our workforce along with the public. This has been demonstrated through statistical data and continues to improve.
- The pandemic is bringing an economic downturn. Governments lean on stimulus spending to turn things around. Construction is the foundation of any stimulus spending.
- The construction industry is well trained and is very accustomed to dealing with rapidly changing regulations. We have already adapted, and we are exercising social distancing on our sites successfully.
- Any decision regarding the continuation of construction services should be done on a case by case basis and be decided based on whether or not Health Canada recommendations around COVID-19 can be met.
- Construction sites across the sector vary greatly as does the level of risk for any infection. As such, it is important for government to understand, through consultation, the risk levels on a case by case basis.
We are a resource to you as your government contemplates responses to maintaining our public safety and economic stability. To that end we ask that you consider the following points as you make decisions in the coming days and weeks as it pertains to our industry, our role in the economy and our responsibilities as industry leaders:
We would encourage your administration to look at the potential of temporary measures such as:
- Advanced tender releases wherever practical and recognizing the need to maintain safety protocols as theprime consideration
- Economic interventions that assist employer and employee access to credit
- Provide necessary economic assistance where employees are potentially displaced
- Incentives that enable employers to maintain and sustain their workforces
- Bring forward measures that will stabilize and encourage investment in infrastructure and private
- investment in Nova Scotia, particularly addressing the recovery period
- Suspend loan repayment interest and terms
- Ensure that payments are made in the public and private sector and potentially lead this initiative by accelerating payments on TIR projects, etc.
- Move to electronic bond acceptance immediately
- Work with industry to understand the essential services requirements, in any potential move toward restricting construction activities
- Tax, EI, WCB and CPP holidays for at least the next three months for employers and employees
These are our recommendations and considerations at this point. We want to work closely with government to proactively provide leadership in a responsible, responsive and cooperative manner. We also wish to provide an expeditious bilateral communication between government and industry stakeholders, and we look to you to the best way to do this. Nova Scotia’s industries are looking not only for short term relief, but also with an eye to the future to ensure that when this eventually passes, we will be in a position to ensure that the recovery period is as short as is possible.
We look forward to working together in these times of uncertainty.
President & CEO, Construction Association of Nova Scotia