New Essential Services List Restricts Construction Activity in Ontario

In a press conference this afternoon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced further changes to the list of essential services. The list determines which businesses and industries may continue to operate during the provincial state of emergency owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas the construction industry as a whole had previously been labelled as an essential service, today the province drastically limited the types of projects that will be permitted to continue operations for the time being.

The following construction projects are exempt from closure and will be permitted to continue operations:

  • Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
  • Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  • Critical industrial construction activities required for,
    • the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    • significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    • industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Residential construction projects where,
    • a footing permit has been granted for single-family, semi-detached and townhomes
    • an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
    • the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
  • Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

The changes will take effect as of 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4th. The timeline for the closure is currently unknown, but the state of emergency has been extended as far as mid-April. The provincial government will reassess the need to extend it further every two weeks.

These changes will obviously have a major impact on the entire construction industry throughout Ontario. As Duncan, Linton LLP continues to operate remotely, we want to assure our clients that our construction lawyers remain available to discuss these changes, the impact of COVID-19 on ongoing projects, and delay provisions in contracts.

To speak with a lawyer about any of the above, please reach out to the firm by contacting us online or call 519-886-3340 to make an appointment.