Mar 24, 2020

Construction Workplaces Deemed “Essential Services”

By Faren Bogach, Paul Conrod and James De Melo, Student-at-Law

Starting Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at midnight, all “non-essential services” are required to shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario. This mandatory closure will be in effect for at least 14-days, with the possibility of further extensions left to the discretion of Premier Ford.

On the evening of March 23, 2020, the Ontario Government clarified exactly which services and business are considered “essential services” and will be able to remain open throughout the 14-day shutdown period. A complete list of the essential services can be found here.

For the construction industry, the following workplaces qualify as essential, meaning that they may continue throughout the shutdown period:

  1. Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate

  1. 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
  2. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance
  3. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors
  4. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects

This order names broad categories of construction-related workplaces, and appears to include almost any construction project operating in Ontario. This likely includes anyone working on construction sites in Ontario, including general contractors, subcontractors, and sub-contractors.

The inclusion of businesses in the supply chain and businesses supplying services to essential workplaces likely means that other businesses supplying materials, equipment, and services to construction projects – such as suppliers and consultants – can also continue to operate during the shutdown period.

Although construction projects can remain open during the shutdown period, Premier Ford warned that employers must maintain safe workplaces and ensure that working conditions are compliant with the Government’s social distancing and hygiene standards.

The questions of whether certain work or operations falls within the scope of this list, or how to comply with the Government’s social-distancing and hygiene standards apply are will depend on your workplace. If you have any questions as to how this order and other COVID-19 related issues may affect your workplace, please contact Faren Bogach or Paul Conrod.


The information and comments herein are for the general information of the reader and are not intended as advice or opinion to be relied upon in relation to any particular circumstances. For particular application of the law to specific situations, the reader should seek professional advice.