Oct 09, 2020

Our response to Local Representatives

MPP Peter Tabuns 
Toronto – Danforth 
923 Danforth Avenue 
Toronto ON M4J 1L8 

MPP Rima Berns-McGown 
Beaches – East York 
1821 Danforth Avenue 
Toronto ON M4C 1J2 

Councillor Paula Fletcher 
Ward 14 Toronto – Danforth 
100 Queen Street W., Suite C44 
Toronto ON M5H 2N2 

Councillor Brad Bradford
Ward 19 Beaches – East York
100 Queen Street W., Suite B28
Toronto ON M5H 2N2

MP Julie Dabrusin                           
Toronto – Danforth                           
1028 Queen Street East                    
Toronto ON M4M 1K4                        

MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith
Beaches – East York 
1902 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4C 1J4

Trustee Jennifer Story                       
Ward 15 Toronto – Danforth              
5050 Yonge Street                          
Toronto ON M2N 5N8                       

Trustee Michelle Aarts
Ward 16 Beaches – East York
5050 Yonge Street
Toronto ON M2N 5N8

Trustee Angela Kennedy
Ward 11 East York – Toronto
80 Sheppard Avenue East
North York ON M2N 6E8

October 9, 2020

Dear Local Representatives,

I want to start by thanking you all sincerely for your letter. As you have acknowledged, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in our condemnation of anti-Black racism at our project site on the Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) property. We also agree that statements are not enough – we must take strong action to prevent the spread of racism and hate on our job sites. That is why I echo the need for an urgent meeting and welcome the chance to discuss this with you at the earliest possible opportunity.

Today, I am writing you to outline the steps we have taken, and are taking, to ensure our site is safe for all of our employees and sub-trades. In your letter, you ask that representatives from the Ministry of Labour attend the site and provide a proposed plan of action. You have also requested the date and details of site inspections that have already occurred. I want to assure you that Ministry of Labour officials have maintained a strong presence onsite and to date, and I would be more than happy to connect you with the appropriate people who can provide the specific dates and timelines you are seeking.

We agree wholeheartedly that comprehensive internal tracking and a robust security system are required at the site. That is why we are taking the following steps:

• We have added additional security cameras on site. We now have security on site after normal hours of operation to increase security presence in the immediate-term.
• We have ordered more security signage for the perimeter hoarding, as well as 24/7 video surveillance and security guards onsite.
• We are installing additional lighting at all access points (e.g. entrances at Coxwell and Sammon and vehicle gates). We are in the process of adding more exterior lighting to illuminate all entrances and paths of travel.
• We are adding additional supports to secure the hoarding. We are also installing more privacy screening along the entire perimeter. All locks have been changed and door codes reset.
• We have engaged with a security consultant who will make security-related observations and recommendations for EllisDon to consider at our site at MGH and all of our other project sites.

While I cannot speak for Toronto Police Services regarding their decision not to rule the incident as hate motivated, we are treating these incidents with the utmost severity. While we continue to cooperate fully with the investigation of these incidents, we have engaged a third-party consultant to assist in our own internal investigation of the matter. We are also offering a $5,000 reward for any information that helps us identify the person, or people, responsible. To be clear, we will not rest until the perpetrators are found and are held responsible for their despicable actions.

Like you, we are deeply disturbed by what has happened. As leaders in our industry, we believe that every EllisDon site should be a place where our employees and subtrades feel safe, comfortable and empowered to be themselves, regardless of their race, gender, age, abilities and disabilities, sexuality, and faith. To meet this commitment, we are taking the following steps with our unions and subcontractors:

• We are increasing sanctions for our sub-trades found accountable for racist or discriminatory actions, both the individual(s) involved, as well as the company.
• We are strategizing with our unions on how to educate and eradicate anti-Black racism.
• We are providing access to complimentary Diversity and Inclusion training to all our subcontractors and unions to educate them on concepts such as identity, perspective and language and creating inclusive environments and resources on systemic racism, allyship, microaggressions and more.
• We have created the Alliance of Black Employee Experience and Leadership (ABEEL) to educate all of our employees and sub-trades on anti-Black racism. This week, ABEEL organized a “Say No to AntiBlack Racism” campaign which has included a survey available on all EllisDon sites across the company to give our employees and subcontractors a place to share their experiences and provide suggestions on how to create a more inclusive workplace for members of the Black community and other marginalized groups.

In addition to these efforts, we are working hard to create safer and more inclusive workspaces for our employees across the company. To date, we have:

• Appointed a dedicated employee as the Head of Inclusive Diversity.
• Established an anonymous reporting system by phone and email that is accessible to all of our employees and sub-trades to create a safe place and encourage everyone to report incidents of racism and discrimination.
• Encouraged on-going stand-downs and toolbox talks at site level to condemn hateful action, offer support, and create awareness around racism and intolerance and what workers can do to stop it.
• Posted our Anti-Racism signs as a constant reminder that there is zero-tolerance for racism at our workplaces at all EllisDon sites.
• Developed an Inclusive Diversity training program that all employees must also undertake on identity, perspective, language and inclusive environments before beginning their work with us. Inclusive leadership is a key performance indicator through our Performance Review process to ensure we are empowering the right talent at our company.
• As President and CEO, I have also signed the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge to devote key organizational changes and actions to address, change and end anti-Black systemic racism.

In short order, we will also be consulting via a virtual round table with members of the community to discuss what we have done and what we can do moving forward. It is critically important to me to ensure that our community is a part of these ongoing conversations so that we can find real solutions to this issue.

By no means is our work finished. We acknowledge that systemic racism in the construction industry is real and you have my commitment that we will not stop until we eliminate it completely from our sites and our industry. I thank you again for your letter and look forward to speaking with you further.

Sincerely,

Geoff Smith
President and Chief Executive Officer
EllisDon

 

For a PDF version, click HERE