Last March, the provincial government gave the Ontario construction industry something to talk about – an overdue dialogue, frankly – when it announced that it would introduce women-only bathrooms on construction sites.

Taking it a step further, a day on the job could soon get a little easier for women. As part of a bill introduced today, the Ontario government announced that menstrual products would be required to be provided on the province’s larger construction sites. The changes are said to apply to construction sites of 20 or more workers and where construction is anticipated to last at least three months.

The legislation is the first of its kind in Canada and will make regulatory changes to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Province says it’s designed to make skilled more accessible to women (and people with vaginas) and support them at work.

The move is part of the just-introduced Working for Workers Five Act, 2024 , which builds on the Province’s previous four Working for Workers acts. The act contains a suite of measures, including a mandate that washrooms are clean and sanitary (don’t ask us why this wasn’t a thing sooner). According to the Province, this means that the government will propose legislative and regulatory changes to require employers at both construction sites and other workplaces to require that washrooms are kept clean and sanitary and maintain records of washroom cleaning.

construction sites

“Under Premier Ford, our government is tackling the generational labour shortage previous governments left in their wake,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development in a press release. "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. 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.”

While it’s safe to say that merely offering tampons and pads on construction sites isn’t enough to entice women to jump into the profession, at least the initiative facilitates a more welcoming environment for them.

“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.”

According to the Ford government, measures to address safety in construction will include a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector and a consultation on expanding the types of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to be provided on construction projects. This comes after a handful of workplace accidents and crane collapses on Greater Toronto Area (GTA) construction sites in recent years.

construction sites

“If passed, the government’s fifth Working for Workers Act will protect the health and dignity of workers and frontline heroes, impose tougher penalties on exploitative bad actors, and open up new pathways for people to join the skilled trades,” reads the press release, “By continuing to put workers first, the government is building a brighter future for all Ontarians and ensuring our province remains the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

The new changes come amidst initiatives from the federal government designed to ramp up action in Canada's construction industry in order to get more homes built faster and attract young workers to the industry.