Large B.C. construction sites must have flushable toilets, says Premier David Eby

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B.C. construction projects with more than 25 workers must have access to a flushable toilet, according to a law to be introduced by Premier David Eby.

Speaking at the B.C. Building Trades constitutional convention in Victoria on Monday, Eby said that requirements for flushing toilets with running water would improve the lives of construction workers.

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“If we want people to work in the trades, if we want to show people that this is a great way to support your family and build your community, the basic ability to go to a bathroom that doesn’t stink, that isn’t a mess, where you can flush a toilet, is a basic requirement for a decent job site,” Eby told delegates.

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However, according to the owner of a Dawson Creek business that owns 100 porta-potties the decision was made suddenly without consultation with industry.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on this and the fact that the government instituted these rules at the beck and call of the union with one week’s consideration and no consultation with businesses or the industry is wrong,” said Josh Gilmour, president of Element Disposal.

Gilmour said that installing a flushable toilet system would cost construction companies 10 times more, and that WorkSafeBC already had rules in place to ensure porta-potties are regularly cleaned and serviced.

According to B.C. Building Trades Council executive director Brynn Bourke, details of the new law are not yet available, but the announcement follows a lobbying campaign called “Get Flushed” to improve access to better toilets for workers.

Porta-potties at a development project at Broadway and Alma under in Vancouver on July 4, 2023.
Porta-potties can be seen at a development project at Broadway and Alma in Vancouver on July 4, 2023. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

The campaign was driven by health concerns that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic when the B.C. construction industry was allowed to continue working, subject to distancing and handwashing rules. The B.C. Building Trades Council represents 40,000 unionized construction workers.

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“The extent to which the flush toilet campaign was covered in the media and the intensity of the discussion that followed really proves that this is an important issue that requires action from government now, and clearly the Premier agrees,” Bourke said.

The Get Flushed campaign stated most B.C. construction workers work at sites with “dirty, smelly, overfilled and unlit portable toilets.

“Construction companies won’t fix this issue, even though they often provide flushing toilets for managers and supervisors,” the campaign stated.

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Originally posted 2023-10-17 18:57:36.