GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO UPDATE
Ontario Enacts the Municipal Emergency Act, 2020
On March 20, 2020, the Government of Ontario passed new legislation which allows municipalities to continue their businesses through open and closed meetings via electronic means. It requires municipalities to pass amendments to their procedural by-laws in order to move development applications forward.
The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 amends the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 to provide that, during emergencies, members of councils, local boards and committees who participate electronically in open and closed meetings may be counted for the purposes of quorum. Municipalities or local boards are also permitted to hold a special meeting to amend an applicable procedure by-law to allow for electronic participation in meetings, and members of the municipality or local board participating electronically will be counted towards quorum for that special meeting.
These amendments ensure that municipalities can continue to function even when in-person meetings cannot be held and council decisions need to be made. The WE HBA has been advised that for those who have applications in the pipeline, if municipalities pass the requisite amendment to their procedure by-laws, they will be able to continue on with municipal business, including the processing of development applications by electronic means.
CONSTRUCTION SITES UPDATE
Employ Best Health and Safety Practices as Construction Sites Remain Open
The construction industry was deemed an essential service under the government’s list of essential services: “construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors”; a privilege that must be taken seriously. Yesterday, the Ontario Construction Consortium announced that they were calling for a 14 day suspension of work on job sites.
WE HBA members are urged to enforce compliance with work site safety, as one negligent construction site can risk a complete industry shutdown during these times. Best health and safety job site practices must be upheld to ensure our members can continue to deliver housing required for our communities, and also to ensure the safety and welfare of our workers. Evaluation and self-assessment of the continued operations of your sites should be carried out at this time for the security and safety of the entire industry, as a number of our members have already done.
Premier Ford, at a news conference on March 24th, made the following statement, which directly addressed the construction sector:
“When it comes to necessities of life, shelter is at the top of the list, and we cannot take lightly a decision which could put shelter for thousands of people at risk. Yesterday, I put the construction industry on notice. Our chief provincial officer has sent out new guidelines for construction sites, and there are currently dozens of provincial labour inspectors at numerous job sites to ensure appropriate protocols are in place. These inspectors will not hesitate to shut sites down. Let me be clear, if the industry does not take every step necessary to look after their workers, I will shut them down, because this is first and foremost a public health emergency. The public health comes above all else. Shutting down non-essential workplaces was a necessary decision and we will not hesitate to shut down further workplaces as needed. We need to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a society we are being asked to make tremendous individual sacrifices. To get through this, we must all make sacrifices, we must put our collective well-being above all else, and today we are recognizing the sacrifices that people and businesses are making during these difficult days.”
During a Q & A session following the conference, the Premier further reiterated and stressed that all workers have the right to leave a job site if they feel unsafe or at risk at work. He stated that “we are going to continue day after day inspecting these sites and they [inspectors] have the authority to shut down any site in the province, and we want collaboration, we want cooperation. The vast majority of these general contractors, the vast majority of these labour leaders, are cooperating. They’re doing a great job…We’ve had tremendous cooperation from the people right across this province… People are cooperating, people are listening. But also, businesses have to use their judgement, their common sense. We can’t go around and inspect tens of thousands of businesses. If someone is working at a location, and again I repeat, you don’t feel safe, you can walk off the site.”
The OHBA has strongly advised that it is not business as usual. Provincial inspectors will be on job sites and will not hesitate to shut sites down for not following enhanced health and safety precautions. Please refer to their industry best practices guide and implement as soon as possible. They have released various items on health and safety measures for continued work on job sites.
Take time to review and enhance job site conditions:
The CHBA is monitoring the rapidly evolving event and is committed to communicating relevant industry information as well. Please check out their COVID-19 website
for government relations news, key government measures, draft guidelines for operating during COVID-19, and best practice for business owners.
Yesterday, the Government of Ontario passed an Emergency Order (O.Reg. 73/20) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act which is retroactive to March 16, 2020, and affects Local Planning Appeal Tribunal proceedings in the following ways:
- The Tribunal will not schedule any hearing events, including in-person, written, or teleconference hearings, while this Emergency Order is in effect. Accordingly, notice of hearing events will not be provided or directed.
- All hearing events scheduled in the Tribunal’s hearing calendar between the effective date of the Emergency Order and June 30, 2020 will be adjourned to a future date. The Tribunal will revisit and reconsider this three-month period as the circumstances change.
- All timelines within which any step must be taken in a proceeding before the Tribunal, including timelines established in the Tribunal’s procedural orders are suspended for the duration of the Order.
- Any period of time for a person to initiate a proceeding with the Tribunal, or take a step in the proceeding, as set out in a statute, regulation or Tribunal Rule is suspended by O. Reg. 73/20 for the duration of this Order.
Also of note, if your appeal involved a procedural order that prescribes timelines related to the exchange of witness statements, meeting of experts, or similar directions, these timelines are now suspended. Postponed hearing events will be rescheduled in the near future. The LPAT’s front counter remains closed, and mail of any type cannot be received. Members are encouraged to check the LPAT website
for future updates.
CHBA WEBINAR OPPORTUNITY
Technologies and Strategies to Keep your Business Connected during COVID-19
Tomorrow, Avid Ratings Canada, a CHBA Alliance Network Member, is hosting a webinar on the current disruption from the COVID-19 outbreak and will share ideas to help companies stay connected with their employees, trades, suppliers and customers. Learn how to use technology and strategies to increase your connections and enhance communication like never before.
Follow this link to register
for the Webinar on March 26, 2020. If you’re interested in the topic but can’t attend, sign up to receive a recording of the session. Please note the 11 am CDT start time; 12 pm EDT