Ontario Updates List of Essential Construction Workplaces

On April 3, 2020, Ontario updated its list of construction workplaces considered “essential”. All other non-essential construction workplaces must close by no later than April 4, 2020 at 11:59 pm while the emergency COVID-19 regulation remains in effect.

The closure was planned to last for at least 14 days, until April 18, 2020. On April 14, 2020 the emergency workplace closure was extended 28 days to May 12, 2020. The Ontario news release announcing the extension can be found here

Importantly, construction companies remain responsible for occupational health and safety requirements during the shutdown. 

Daily Commercial News reported that there were 583 Ministry of Labour inspections over week prior to the April 3, 2020 announcement and five Ontario construction sites were shut down. During Premier Ford’s April 3, 2020 announcement, he stated that “Those few sites that will remain open will be placed under the highest level of scrutiny possible.”

Construction projects supporting “critical” provincial infrastructure, healthcare, and healthcare-related manufacturing have been deemed essential and are permitted to remain open. Certain residential projects that have permits granted or renovation work that started prior to April 4, 2020 have also been spared from the shutdown.

A copy of Ontario’s list of “essential” construction services is included below and accessible here:


  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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.