Double vaccination required for construction workers stationed near hospitals

Contractors will be responsible for ensuring that staff assigned to a site located near a hospital are fully vaccinated.

Workers have until Oct. 15 to get fully vaccinated

Construction workers stationed at sites near hospitals will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. (Radio-Canada)

Some Quebec construction workers may find themselves rushing to get the jab this week.

As of Oct. 15, all workers stationed at construction sites near or inside a health-care establishment will have to be fully vaccinated. It will be up to contractors to ensure that their staff are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Mario Boucher, president of Symaco in Quebec City, said he expects complications with implementing the measure.

"We're lucky, at our company, 95 per cent of people are vaccinated," he said. "But our subcontractors might not have the same percentage."

The measure, adopted by decree on Sept. 24, only applies to work sites where employees could be in contact with health-care workers, administrative staff, visitors and patients.

Boucher and his team of about 20 employees are currently undertaking projects in several hospitals in the Capitale-Nationale (Saint-Sacrement, Saint-François-d'Assise and the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre).

"Of course, one morning, we could be asking for five painters and only three will show up," he said.

Work on new construction projects won't be taken into account.

Mobile vaccination clinics

The province will also be sending mobile vaccination clinics to construction sites to accommodate workers.

Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet says making vaccines mandatory for workers is a recommendation from public health.

"At this point in the evolution of the pandemic we really need to protect our healthcare environments," he said. "This is for the benefit of the entire Quebec population."

Double vaccination for construction workers will be required until further notice, Boulet said.

For Guillaume Houle, spokesperson for the Association de la construction du Québec, having construction workers get vaccinated is logical because health-care staff could infect them and vice versa.

"If you compare the construction industry to society in general, it means that there would be one in four employees who are not vaccinated," he said.

According to public health data, 79 per cent of 30 to 39-year-olds have been vaccinated, but the average age of workers in the construction industry is 39 years old.

FTQ-Construction, which represents 80,000 employees in the sector across Quebec, declined to comment on the health measure.

The federation is waiting to see how it will be applied and what consequences it will have for employees before expressing itself on the subject.

The construction sector was one of the first industries in Quebec to resume its activities after the first lockdown.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,200 outbreaks have been recorded on construction sites and 4,000 construction workers have been infected with COVID-19.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Vincent Pichard