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Canada releases document highlighting essential roles in infrastructure

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A new non-binding federal guidance document is helping to inform the public and employers about infrastructure services and functions deemed essential as Canada attempts a lockdown in the face of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, released the “Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic” on April 2.

Canada’s 10 critical infrastructure sectors identified in the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure are: Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing.

Some services and functions within these sectors are considered essential to “preserving life, health and basic societal functioning,” the document states. These include, but are not limited to, the functions performed by first responders, health care workers, critical infrastructure workers (e.g., hydro and natural gas), and workers who are essential to supply critical goods such as food and medicines.

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For instance, under the category of water, the document includes the following as essential:

  • Employees and others needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure;
  • Employees needed to maintain and test water quality; and
  • Workers required to carry out construction and restoration projects and services associated with the water sector, including building and commissioning water and wastewater systems and supporting the health and safety of users of the system.

“Through this incredibly challenging time, Canadians want the services they rely on every day for their health and safety and economic well-being to continue,” announced Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “We have put together this guidance to help support critical infrastructure employers in identifying and managing their workforce while responding to COVID-19,” he added.

The federal government stated that the guidance document will support critical infrastructure employers in identifying and managing their workforce, while fostering alignment and harmonization across sectors.

While considered essential, the document notes that workers who deliver essential services and functions should continue to do their jobs “provided they have no symptoms” of COVID-19. Employers, meanwhile, “should take all possible steps to protect their health and safety” by implementing practices and procedures recommended by public health authorities and providing appropriate protective equipment and products. Further, “workers who can perform their tasks remotely should do so.”

The list was developed in consultation with industry and labour representatives, as well as provinces and territories. For the full list of essential jobs included in the guidance document, please click here.

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