COVID-19 Industry Update May 4, 2020

Provincial Update

Province Allows Certain Businesses to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines

On Friday, Premier Ford and fellow Ministers announced that the Ontario government is allowing certain businesses to reopen beginning today, May 4th, provided that they comply with strict public health and safety measures. OHBA will be updating this notice with additional information regarding specific construction activities as soon as an updated “essential workplaces list” is provided by the Province.

As per Friday’s announcement and press release: “By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 AM:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
  • shipping and logistics;
  • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
  • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
  • municipal projects;
  • colleges and universities;
  • child care centres;
  • schools; and
  • site preparation, excavation, and services for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;

It can not be stressed enough that this is NOT business as usual. The reactivation of these construction activities comes with the provisions that all sites must meet or exceed the Ministry of Labour’s health, safety and sanitation guidelines for construction during COVID-19. It is also imperative that members consult the MOL technical guidance documents for sector-specific guidelines on proper procedures for the construction sector to improve health, safety and sanitation.

Please take the proper time to review and assess any reactivation of construction as the result of this announcement, and immediately enhance the health, safety, and sanitation-related to job site and construction activity. OHBA also has some health and safety documents you can review as you prepare for reactivation.

Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton, has added almost 60 more health and safety inspectors to support and enforce health and safety on job sites across Ontario. Those sites that are not in compliance will be shutdown.

Updated Essential Services List

An updated “essential workplaces list” has been provided by the Province. Please review the changes to the list that impact our sector and are now live on the list. OHBA will be following up to get clarification on areas requiring more interpretation.


The following highlighted items are updates that are now included in the Essential Services List:


5.1 Lawn care services and landscaping 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.

28.1. 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.

  1. Critical industrial construction activities required for:
  2. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
  3. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,

iii. 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.

29.1. 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.

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

  1. provide additional capacity for businesses 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.
  3. Residential construction projects where,
  4. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
  5. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or

iii. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.

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

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

New Labour Guidelines for Construction

Last week, Premier Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced new technical sector guidance documents to further support employers and employees in remaining safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak. The documents for our sector have been prepared with the support of the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association and are organized in the attached Chart. OHBA will be dissecting these documents and will update their resource documents accordingly.

Please review the attached chart for more information.


OHBA & WE HBA Statement

Home Builders’ Association Supports Ontario Government Decision to Expand Construction Activity to Meet Ontario’s Housing Need

The West End Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) welcome the Government of Ontario’s decision today to expand the list of allowable construction activities under the COVID-19 Emergency Orders. The resumption of more normal construction activities will allow the industry to meet the housing needs of the and Ontario.  

“Building new homes and communities is a long complicated process and requires different construction activities over a number of seasons” said WE HBA President Rob Molinaro. “Losing the entire construction season for site servicing would be setting our local housing supply back, and risk the homes that our clients are looking to move into next year. Under the new provincial guidelines, we will continue to deliver homes safely today and in the future. “ 

The decision to resume earthworks or site grading makes sense as every operator is in their own machine, therefore ensuring physical distancing. Site grading is vital to every construction site as it must be completed before all other construction activity can start.

In addition, the decision allows for site and land-servicing projects to commence or continue new residential, industrial, commercial and institutional developments. Underground servicing, the installation of storm water controls, water pipes, sanitary sewer pipes, road construction, including curbs and sidewalk, landscape works, trails, parks and utilities (telecommunications, water, gas, electricity, etc.) are necessary for the activation of new homes and eventual occupancy. 

Work must be carried out in compliance with the Ministry of Labour’s Guidelines for Construction site Health and Safety during COVID-19 and the industry supports shuttering any site that does not meet these necessary requirements.

“We all want safe jobsites,” said Joe Vaccaro, OHBA CEO. “Adding these new construction activities along with new provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines means members will continue to focus on worker safety while delivering keys to the thousands of families waiting for their homes to be completed. We can keep each other safe while delivering housing supply across Ontario.” 


OHBA Update

OHBA & RBC Market Review

OHBA in partnership with RBC would like to review the economic impact of COVID-19 to builders, consumers and the construction business, and to review how RBC is assisting in alleviating the stress and pressures of these changing times.

For any members interested in joining the call, please see the below details to participate.

The market update will include a welcome and introduction from Joe Vaccaro of the OHBA; Robert Hogue – RBC Senior Economist with a Market Update; Stella Partipilo – RBC Regional Vice President Mortgage Specialist, Ontario North East with an RBC Update; and Angella Tsangarakis will provide a Q & A session with all the panelists.

RBC Market Update and COVID19

WEDNESDAY MAY 6, 2020 | 10:00 AM, Eastern Daylight Time (Toronto, GMT-04:00)

Use the link here to join the Webex event. 

Event number: 472 089 527 

Event password: RBC2020 

Audio Dial In: 1877-310-7479

Access number (same as event number): 472 089 527


Tarion Update

Building Official Update: New COVID-19 Resources from Tarion

As you know, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government extended an Emergency Order that requires social distancing measures and closed non-essential businesses – with some construction being allowed to continue. During this time, we are making every effort to provide a high level of customer service and support for our stakeholders.

On the Tarion’s website, you will find resources and advisories regarding the impact COVID-19 may have on timelines, inspections and other warranty related matters.

Municipal building departments are often a front-line resource for both builders and residents who have questions about their new home construction. To keep you updated on Tarion’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are sharing some information that may be of assistance. We encourage you to share these with builders and residents alike in your communities who may have questions about how the pandemic will impact them.

  • Tarion’s homeowner resource page has information thoroughly explaining how the emergency order affects warranty claims, inspections, and emergency repairs, as well as the questions most commonly asked by homeowners and new home buyers.
  • This video webinar for homeowners and new home buyers clarifies the suspension of timelines and how repairs, inspections, pre-delivery inspections, and closings are impacted.
  • Tarion’s builder resource page has a number of documents explaining how the emergency order affects warranty claims, inspections and emergency repairs; an unavoidable delay advisory, sample documents and worksheets; as well as a collection of frequently asked questions.

Tarion understands the disruption and potential frustration the pandemic may be causing and want to assure you that Tarion is here to help. They remain committed to keeping their stakeholders informed as we work through this evolving situation together. If you have questions about Tarion’s response to COVID-19 please reach out at


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