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Construction through COVID-19 in Canada
May 5, 2020

Construction through COVID-19 in Canada: A guideline for what each province and territory is doing as of May 4

COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on construction activity in Canada. Governments have limited what construction activities can continue during the shutdown, issued emergency orders affecting construction litigation, and changed health and safety protocols at site.

The impacts to construction projects, litigation, and health and safety vary across provinces and territories. Below is a guideline resource for how each province and territory is managing COVID-19’s impact on the construction industry. For each province and territory we have assembled and laid out,

1.  the list of permitted construction and related services that can continue;

2.  the impact of emergency orders on limitation periods and procedural deadlines for construction litigation; and

3.  the recommended guidelines for increased health and safety practices for construction sites.

Should you have any questions about whether your construction project can continue during the pandemic, or how these orders may affect your existing or future litigation, please feel free to contact us.  We will keep this bulletin updated on a weekly basis.

To locate a particular province or territory in the list, please click it in the list below:

A) Ontario

B) Quebec

C) British Columbia

D) Alberta

E) Saskatchewan

F) Manitoba

G) New Brunswick

H) Nova Scotia

I) Prince Edward Island

J) Newfoundland

K) Yukon

L) Northwest Territories

M) Nunavut

A) Ontario

1.  List of Permitted Construction and Related Services

The list of construction and related activities that may continue in Ontario during the pandemic are listed below. Ontario’s complete list of essential services can be found here.

Construction Services

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, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.

3.  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.

4. 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.

5.  Construction projects that are due to be completed before October 4, 2020 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.

6.  Construction projects that were started before April 4, 2020, and that would:

  1. provide additional capacity for business 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.

7.  Residential construction projects where,

  1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes,
  2. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
  3. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.

8.  Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.

9.  Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

Construction Related Services

10.  Lawn care services and landscaping services.

11.  Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.

12.  Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.

13.  Stores that sell hardware products.

14.  Garden centres and plant nurseries.

15.  Business that provide land registration services.

16.  Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:

  1. Sewage treatment and disposal.
  2. Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
  3. Potable drinking water.
  4.  Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
  5. Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean up and response.
  6. (Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses.
  7. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.
  8. Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits.
  9. Allotment gardens or community gardens.
2.  Impact on Limitation Periods and Procedural Deadlines in Litigation

On March 16, 2020, the Ontario Government issued an emergency order suspending all limitation periods and procedural deadlines in litigation. However, effective April 16, the Ontario Government exempted the limitation periods and procedural deadlines in the Construction Act from the emergency order. For more details on these changes and the impact on liens, holdbacks and construction litigation generally, please see our prior bulletin on this topic here: Show Me the Money Government of Ontario to Amend Emergency Order to Allow Release of Holdbacks. The complete regulation exempting the Construction Act that took effect April 16 can be found here.

3.  Guideline for Increased Health and Safety Practices

See here for the Chief Prevention Officer’s guidance to the construction sector in Ontario on health and safety related to COVID-19.

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