Feb 11, 2021

New Changes to Lockdown Rules Permit Additional Construction Activities

The State of Emergency in Ontario was lifted by the government of Ontario on Tuesday February 9, 2021. Despite this promising development, this does not mean that the construction industry is completely back to “business as usual” just yet.

As part of the announcement lifting the state of emergency the government of Ontario announced a return to the phased openings we saw across the Province throughout the summer and fall of 2020. Areas with greater transmission rates of COVID-19 will remain as Stay-At-Home zones, while those areas that are relatively less impacted by COVID can begin moving towards reopening. The timeline for moving from a Stay-At-Home zone to the re-opening framework is fluid at the moment and will be determined on a region-by-region basis. The latest estimations for when each region will enter the reopening framework can be found here.

The Reopening Framework (Not Stay-At Home Zones) – All Construction Activities are Permitted

In those regions which have left the Stay-At-Home Zone and entered the re-opening framework, all construction and construction activities are permitted. This is true for all regions in the grey, red, orange, yellow, and green zones established by the re-opening framework.

Stay-At-Home Zones – Restrictions on Construction Activities

In Stay-at-Home Zones the shutdown and stay at home order continue in effect. Construction activities are limited to those deemed essential as set out in the following list (Please note that the changes in this list from the previous regulation are bolded):

Construction activities or projects and related services, including land surveying and demolition services, that,

  • are associated with the healthcare sector or long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
  • ensure safe and reliable operations of, or provide new capacity in,
    • municipal infrastructure, or
    • provincial infrastructure, including but not limited to, the transit, transportation, resource, energy and justice sectors;
  • 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.
  • support the operations of, or provide new capacity in schools, colleges, universities and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
  • are required for
    • the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries;
    • significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work commenced before January 12, 2021; or
    • 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.
  • would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
  • 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,
    • provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services, or
    • provide additional capacity to, or enhance the efficiency or operations of, businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods
    • provide additional capacity to, or enhance the efficiency or operations of, businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment, and materials.
  • that support the operations of broadband internet and cellular technologies and services.
  • are residential construction activities or projects and related services.
  • prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure. are necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused, or that are not active, to ensure ongoing public safety;
  • are funded in whole or in part by,
    • 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, or
    • a municipality

For questions about whether your construction activities fall within the scope of essential construction, and for assistance determining what requirements essential construction activities will need to comply with to avoid running afoul of public health guidance, please contact Faren Bogach, Paul Conrod, or James De Melo.

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.