The Government of Ontario Orders Closure of all Non-Essential Workplaces

On March 23, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced the closure of all non-essential workplaces effective on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 11:59 pm as a response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Ontario later released a complete list of essential workplaces and noted that teleworking and online communications would always be permitted for all businesses.

Many of the workplaces listed as ‘essential’ by the government are those that employ engineers. While OSPE understands the essential nature of these workplaces and the importance of safeguarding engineering jobs, it is imperative that the government continue to take proactive steps towards ensuring these workplaces are safe. Moreover, the government must ensure that owners, contractors, and consultants are legally protected from financial liability in the face of a force majeure event. Many contractors are feeling the pressure to continue operating due to substantial financial damages because of the legal liabilities associated with closing a site. This was outlined in a letter sent to the Attorney General of Ontario by the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO) and supported by several stakeholders, including OSPE.

Specifically, CDAO and OSPE are calling for the Ontario Government:

To protect construction workers and adopt a transparent and standardized force majeure clause retroactively into all contracts under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that includes “quarantine restrictions,” and / or “epidemics” as triggering events. By taking this action, the government would be able to protect the parties while allowing them to continue to build under extremely difficult and uncertain conditions.  None of the parties should be penalized as a result of delays arising from this unprecedented event.

OSPE will continue to work with our partners, including all orders of government, to monitor the situation as it evolves to ensure the safety and security of the engineering community.

Below is the list of essential workplaces that impact engineers and engineering graduates in Ontario, for a full list of workplaces click here:

Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate
Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services, plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, , security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services
  • Businesses engaged in providing or supporting Information Technology (IT) including online services, software products and related services, as well as the technical facilities such as data centres and other network facilities necessary for their operation and delivery;
  • Businesses providing telecommunications services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc) as well as support facilities such as call centres necessary for their operation and delivery;
  • Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services to businesses and individuals including by air, water, road, and rail including providing logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, including truck stops and tow operators;
  • Businesses that provide materials and services for the operation, maintenance and safety of transportation systems (road, transit, rail, air and marine) including delivery of maintenance services such as clearing snow, response to collisions, and completing needed repairs to the transportation systems.
  • Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer);
  • Businesses, facilities and services that support and facilitate the two- way movement of essential goods within integrated North American and Global supply chains.
  • Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;
  • Businesses that support the food supply chain including assembly yards, livestock auctions, food distribution hubs, feed mills, farm equipment suppliers, feed suppliers, food terminals and warehouses, animal slaughter plants and grain elevators;
  • Business that support the safety of food including animal and plant health and animal welfare;
  • Businesses that provide veterinary services, and that supply veterinary and animal control medications and related supplies and testing kits;
  • Businesses that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling;
  • 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;
  • Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance;
  • Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;
  • Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects
  • Capital markets (e.g., the TSX);
  • Banking & Activities related to Credit Intermediation; credit unions;
  • Insurance;
  • Businesses that provide pension services and employee benefits services;
  • Businesses that provide financial services including payment processing, the payroll division of any employer (as defined by the Employment Standards Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act), any entity whose operation is the administration of payroll, banks and credit unions;
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains in Northern Ontario including;
    • Mining operations, production and processing;
    • Mineral exploration and development;
    • Mining Supply and Services that ssupport supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety.
  • Businesses that provide chemicals and gases to support the natural resource sector analytical labs and drinking water and wastewater sectors and other essential businesses;
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of forestry products (e.g. lumber, pulp, paper, wood fuel, etc.);
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of aggregates to support critical infrastructure repairs and emergency response requirements (e.g. sandbags, armour stone barriers, etc.);
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of petroleum and petroleum by-products;
Businesses that support environmental management/monitoring and spill clean-up and response, including environmental consulting firms, professional engineers and geoscientists, septics haulers, well drillers, pesticides applicators and exterminators, management of industrial sewage/effluent (eg for mining operations), and environmental laboratories;
  • Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services:
    • Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal;
    • Potable drinking water;
    • Electricity Generation, transmission, distribution and storage;
    • Natural Gas distribution, transmission and storage,
    • Road construction and maintenance;
    • Police, fire, emergency services including coroner services and pathology services ;
    • corrections and courts services;
    • other government services including licenses and permits;
  • Businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);
  • Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities;
  • Businesses that provide products and services that support research activities;
  • Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals; medical devices and medical supplies
  • Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.

For more on COVID-19 and its affect on engineering in Ontario, visit our COVID-19 news page

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