On January 12, 2021, in response to record COVID-19 case growth, the Ontario Government declared a second provincial emergency under s. 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the "Provincial Emergency").

The public announcement includes additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including further restrictions on non-essential construction, including below-grade construction, but exempting survey. The below summarizes the additional measures that are in place now and which will be in place as of 12:01am on January 14, 2021. The regulations specifying the details of the closures are forthcoming.

Premier Ford has announced that the state of emergency will last at least 28 days. Orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 remain in effect until January 20, 2021. The Province may extend those orders for up to 30 days at a time.

Essential Construction

The Ontario Government has provided an updated list of types of construction projects and work that will be deemed essential and will be allowed to continue operations under the new Provincial Emergency and related orders and regulations. All other constructions work must cease at 12:01am on January 14, 2021. This restriction does not apply to construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

The following is a list of the types of construction projects that are included in the list:

  • 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,
    1. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    2. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    3. 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,
    1. provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services, or
    2. provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services.
  • Residential construction projects where,
    1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    2. the project is a condominium, mixed use or other residential building, or
    3. 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,
    1. affordable housing, or
    2. 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:
    1. the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    2. an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    3. a municipality,
    4. a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
    5. a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

The Province has announced that the foregoing workplaces will need to be enhanced with workplace testing and additional enforcement to ensure compliance. Details about such testing and enforcement remain to be announced by the Province.

Non-Essential Construction

For non-essential construction projects, any new restrictions are expected to come into effect at 12:01am on January 14, 2021. Details regarding the specific new restrictions, and whether this will mean a full shutdown of projects not deemed essential projects under the above list, are not currently available.

Conclusion

We anticipate further information from the Province will be forthcoming. Please continue to visit our website for updates, and contact one of our experienced professionals for guidance on how these restrictions may impact your operations.