​Understanding the New COVID Measures for the Ontario Construction Industry

January 12, 2021 – Ontario

Premier Ford has announced new public-health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which includes new restrictions to the construction industry.

During a news conference at Queen’s Park on January 12, 2021, Premier Ford said the province is issuing a stay-at-home order in addition to declaring the second provincial state of emergency and revealed enhanced enforcement measures to reduce mobility and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Ford said the state of emergency will be in effect for at least 28 days, effective Thursday, January 14, at 12:01 AM.

The residential construction has been defined as essential with a regulated list of construction projects deemed essential. Although essential, the province has announced new restrictions for the construction industry.

According to the province, all non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction. However, exempt from this is construction surveying.

As confirmed by the office of the premier, the Ontario government has updated the list of construction projects deemed essential, and that list includes:

  • Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector and long-term care, 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, provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy, mining and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of, and provide new capacity in schools, colleges, universities, municipal infrastructure and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
  • Construction projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of Broadband internet and cellular technologies and services.
  • 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.
      Construction projects that are due to be completed before July 2021 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
  • Construction projects that were commenced before January 12, 2021 and that would provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services, or provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services.
  • Residential construction projects where:
    • a footing permit has been granted for single-family, semi-detached and townhomes
    • the project is a condominium, mixed-use or other residential building, or
    • the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021.
  • Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
  • Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
  • Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects, such as apartments and condominiums. The Ontario government also provided that businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines.
  • Construction on any project intended to provide either,
    • affordable housing, or
    • shelter or supports for vulnerable persons,
  • If the project is being funded in whole or in part by, or is being undertaken by, any of the following:
    • the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    • an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    • a municipality,
    • a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
    • a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

NAIMA Canada will continue to monitor the situation daily. Additional resources can be found here, at the Government of Ontario’s website.