On-Site Magazine

Ontario issues stay at home order, closes non-essential construction

By David Kennedy   

Health & Safety Law

Non-essential construction will be required to stop as part of the latest provincial restrictions, but the Ontario government has again adjusted its list of essential construction operations

The Ontario government has issued a stay at home order, requiring residents to remain in their homes except for essential trips to grocery stores, to access health care, or to commute to essential jobs.

Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott, along with several other top officials, announced the strict new measures in a press conference Jan. 12.

“We must change our mobility patterns,” Elliott said. “Too many people are having too many contacts… So to break this cycle you must stay home as much as possible.”

Ford said the order, effective Thursday, is designed to protect Ontario’s health care system, which he described as “on the brink of collapse.” It follows a provincewide lockdown that started Dec. 26.


In addition to requiring Ontarians to stay home, the province has ordered non-essential construction to stop, and all businesses are required to ensure all employees able to work from home are doing so. As it has since the start of the pandemic this spring, however, the province has again shifted its definition of essential construction, meaning many job sites will be allowed to remain open.

Types of construction deemed essential and allowed to continue operating:

  • Public infrastructure construction, such as work on health care, long-term care, schools and infrastructure
  • Residential construction, including renovations, underway as of Jan. 12
  • Site preparation for institutional, commercial, industrial or residential developments, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure
  • Construction tied to internet or cellular infrastructure
  • Maintenance of petrochemical facilities
  • Industrial construction related to the production on PPE, medical devices or products that directly combat COVID-19
  • Construction on food, beverage or agricultural projects scheduled to be complete before July 2021
  • Warehouse or logistics projects underway as of Jan. 12
  • Construction and maintenance work related to temporarily closing construction sites

The complete essential businesses list contains several other specific exemptions. The full list is available here.

Though many job sites will remain open in spite of the latest measures, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development noted it will be launching a new inspection campaign to ensure businesses are taking the proper steps to protect their workers.

“We know the majority of businesses are operating safely and responsibly to protect their workers and customers. But as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we all need to step up and take additional measures to stop the spread,” said Monte McNaughton, the province’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in a release. “This includes increasing our inspections to look at everything workers do both while on the job and throughout the workday.”

Construction is among the industries the ministry said it will be focusing on as part of its latest blitz.


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