Construction Industry supports Toronto Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities

Developers, contractors, unions, associations, and workers are uniting in a growing coalition supporting the Toronto Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities.

“Systemic racism and discrimination harm our construction industry. Bigotry has no place in our communities, and we commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of all to promote inclusive, equitable, safe, and respectful workplaces,” says the coalition.

The Toronto Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities affirms the health and safety of every person and declares the construction industry’s zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or acts of hate of any kind.

To demonstrate its support and to uphold diversity, the City of Toronto has put its official affirmation behind the Declaration, and encourages those in the construction industry across the province to continue denouncing discrimination and hate in all its forms.

Declaration banner at an EllisDon jobsite at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto’s east end. (CNW Group/Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario)

According to the coalition, many employers in the construction industry have not just signed on to this declaration but are taking further action to educate their members about the importance of eliminating racism and discrimination in the industry.

EllisDon has hosted diversity and inclusion town halls to discuss these crucial issues with employees, and Daniels has organized site meetings with construction teams to impress the importance of creating inclusive workplaces and to reiterate that there is zero tolerance for discrimination on job sites.

“EllisDon has zero tolerance for racism, and as an employer, we have a pivotal role to play in this movement. We will continue to work closely with our union partners to promote education and action across all areas of our industry,” said Geoff Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, EllisDon.

“Actioning change requires commitment and collaboration in our industry. Daniels has initiated important dialogues with construction unions, associations and industry partners to take a unified stance and engage in conversations at every level to set out clear expectations that racism, prejudice and hate will simply not be tolerated and have no place in our industry,” said Mitchell Cohen, President and CEO, The Daniels Corporation.

“We’re working with a third-party company to deliver anti-racism training for staff, shop stewards, and eventually all of our members,” says Chris Campbell, Equity and Diversity Representative for the CDCO. “Our partners across the labour movement have also begun rolling out this training to their members and we encourage everyone to join us and do the same.” It is the collective responsibility of the industry to demonstrate that construction is a welcoming path for the next generation of tradespeople – regardless of their background.

In the last year, the construction industry – employers and union partners – have been actively speaking out against racism and hate in all its forms and promoting inclusion and diversity on worksites.

Carpenters Local 27 brought forward and signed the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities in the summer of 2020 as part of a multi-union effort to create safe and respectful workplaces.

The CDCO appointed Chris Campbell as Equity and Diversity Representative to propel the organization forward and continue to advocate workplace discrimination.

EllisDon appointed Jennifer Khan as the Head of Inclusive Diversity, as well as establishing the Alliance of Black Employee Experience and Leadership (ABEEL), led by engineer Samuel Ajobo. Daniels cohosted a virtual town hall in Regent Park to share updates and actions in response to the hate crime on a Daniels construction site.

RESCON, Carpenters’ Local 27 and LiUNA Local 183 participated in the town hall to engage directly with community stakeholders on broader industry actions against racism and discrimination.

“As Mayor, I have made it clear that racism and discrimination have no place in Toronto. We have met with workers, developers, contractors, unions, and associations to create this Declaration and take a stand together against any form of hatred in our city. This past year, when nooses were found on construction sites in Toronto, we recognized the tragic reality that anti-Black racism continues to exist in our society and that we need to keep doing all we can to bring an end to it,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.