The extension to the provincial stay-at-home order has caused even greater confusion among all industries, but most specifically, the construction sector which is now subject to additional guidelines.

On April 16th, the government announced enhanced regulations for the construction sector, adding to and revising how the construction community is to operate at this time. This restriction is in effect until Step 1 of the re-opening plan begins on June 13th.

The government's original requirements, which include physical distancing, good ventilation, and disinfection of surfaces/machines/tools, remain in place.  With respect to the recent government regulations, the important change to now note is what construction is considered essential? This post provides an update on what activities and projects are considered essential and an update on the guidelines that were announced.

As set out in the amended Ontario Regulation 82/20, permitted construction projects and related activities (including land surveying and demolition services) are those that:

 (a)  are associated with the health care sector or long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations, and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;

(b)  ensure safe and reliable operations of, or provide new capacity in,

(i)  municipal infrastructure, or (ii)  provincial infrastructure, including but not limited to, the transit, transportation, resource, energy and justice sectors;

(c)  support the operations of, or provide new capacity in, electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage, natural gas distribution, transmission and storage or in the supply of resources;

(d)  support the operations of, or provide new capacity in, schools, colleges, universities, or child care centers within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014;

(e)  are required for,

(i)  the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, (ii) significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work commenced before April 17, 2021, or (iii)  industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance or enhancement of personal protective equipment, medical devices such as ventilators and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic;

(f)  would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products;

(g)  were commenced before April 17, 2021, and that would, (i)  provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping, and delivery services,(ii)  provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services, or (iii)  provide additional capacity to, or enhance the efficiency or operations of, businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment, and materials;

(h)  support the operations of broadband internet and cellular technologies and services;

(i)  are residential construction activities or projects and related services;

(j)  prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure;

(k)  are necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused, or that are not active, to ensure ongoing public safety;

(l)  are funded in whole or in part by, (i)  the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario, (ii)  an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario, or (iii)  a municipality;

  (m)  are, (i)  intended to provide shelter or supports for vulnerable persons or affordable housing, and (ii)  being funded in whole or in part by, or are being undertaken by, (A)  the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario, (B)  an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario, (C)  a municipality, (D)  a service manager as defined the Housing Services Act, 2011, (E)  a registered charity within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada), or (F)  a not-for-profit corporation; or (n)  support the operations of or provide new capacity for, veterinary facilities within the meaning of the Veterinarians Act.

It is clear from the aforementioned list of permitted activities in the regulation that the majority of them are focused on the health care, telecommunications, and personal protection equipment sectors. In addition to that, some other essential construction activities include the maintenance and construction of roads and infrastructure, public safety, and affordable housing services.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.