Porta-potties are being flushed out of major construction sites in British Columbia after a workers’ union raised a stink about unsanitary working conditions.
The B.C. government will legally require flush toilets on work sites of 25 workers or more, Premier David Eby announced Monday at a construction convention in Victoria. He says the new regulation will improve construction workers’ lives.
“…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,” said Eby.
While the timeline is still under wraps, BC Building Trades, which represents 40,000 unionized construction workers, is celebrating.
The union’s executive director, Brynn Bourke, says workers across B.C. will have “markedly better sanitary conditions on site” and, in turn, be “given the dignity they deserve to work.”
“A scourge for tradespeople”
Eby’s announcement comes after the union relaunched its ‘Get Flushed‘ campaign, which pushed for flush toilets on work sites.
“Enough is enough,” said Bourke in an Oct. 12 release. “Nearly every other industry from film to events and tourism has found a way to bring clean, flushing toilet facilities to mobile sites. Construction workers deserve flush toilets now.”
The union asked Eby and B.C.’s Labour Minister Harry Bains to bring new regulations to B.C., pleading, “Something has to change.” It called porta-potties “a scourge for tradespeople” and said they’re “often unsanitary, filthy, stinky, unlit and have no heating or cooling.”
Tradespeople had also voiced concerns.
“I sometimes hold it in for 11 hours because the porta-potties are so bad,” said insulator Lindsay Sangster. “Porta-potties make you feel like a second-class citizen. Office workers wouldn’t accept these kinds of conditions,” added electrician Matt Baron.
The union said flush toilets have been required at sites with 25 workers or more since 2015 in Quebec.
It noted the construction industry contributed $25 billion to the provincial GDP in 2022 alone, “yet those same workers who create that wealth and build that infrastructure are forced to endure abject, unsanitary washroom conditions.”
Now, it says it will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure requirements deliver the washroom facilities construction workers deserve.
“…this is an important issue that requires action from government now, and clearly the Premier agrees,” added Bourke.
Premier @Dave_Eby has announced his BC NDP government will be bringing in a legal requirement for flush toilets on all construction sites with 25 workers or more. This is a big day for the health and safety, and the dignity of construction workers. Thank you, Premier! pic.twitter.com/VoYPRlcVFL
— BC Building Trades (@WeBuildBC) October 16, 2023