Ontario Releases List of Essential Workplaces Protected from Closure Directive

On March 23, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that all non-essential businesses will be required to close as of 11:59PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.  Late last night, the Government released the full list of “Essential Workplaces” which are permitted to continue operating, highlights of which include:

  • Supply chains, supporting other essential businesses;
  • Businesses, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and markets, engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of:
    • Food, pet food and supplies;
    • Beer, wine, liquor, alcohol and cannabis;
    • Gas, diesel, propane and heating fuel; and
    • Household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses;
  • Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals;
  • Farms, farming equipment and food supply chain;
  • Delivery and takeout restaurants;
  • Delivery services (including mail, courier and food delivery);
  • Business engaged in the sale, rental or repair of vehicles;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Pharmacies and dispensaries;
  • Manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical and health care products;
  • Office supply and safety supply companies;
  • Public and private transportation services, including logistics, warehousing and storage, and other supporting operations;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Business providing support and maintenance to institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties, including:
    • Property management companies;
    • Plumbers and electricians;
    • Custodial, janitorial and other cleaning services;
    • Security, fire safety and sprinkler systems; and
    • HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians;
  • Businesses providing or supporting IT networks, technical facilities and telecommunications services;
  • 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;
    • Ensuring safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors;
    • Construction and demolition in the ICI and residential sectors; and
    • Supporting health and safety and environmental rehabilitation projects;
    • Road construction and maintenance;
  • Businesses engaged in the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (such as railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);
  • Mining operations, mineral exploration and mining supply chains;
  • Chemical, gas and petroleum;
  • Forestry;
  • Professional engineers;
  • Environmental management, septics haulers, exterminators, and industrial sewage management;
  • Waste, landfills, hazardous waste disposal;
  • Water;
  • Power;
  • Police, fire, emergency services, coroner and pathology services;
  • Corrections, courts, and lawyers;
  • Government licencing and permit services;
  • Banks, credit unions, insurance, pension and employee benefit services, and payroll companies;
  • Hotels, motels and student residences;
  • Newspapers, radio, television and telecommunications;
  • Home healthcare, retirement homes, and long-term care facilities;
  • Labs and specimen collection centres;
  • Mental health, addictions and counselling supports;
  • Food banks, women and homeless shelters, community housing, and children’s aid societies;
  • Temporary staffing agencies;
  • Child care services for essential workers; and
  • Home child care services of less than 6 children.

The complete list of essential businesses can be found on the Ontario Government website here, or alternatively in our PDF here.

Non-essential businesses who are impacted by the mandatory closure order are still permitted to continue operating online, by phone, by mail/delivery, and through remote working arrangements.

The mandatory closure will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days, with the possibility of a further extension.

This mandatory closure order comes in parallel to businesses being encouraged to consider innovating their business models that will allow operations to continue, for example by implementing remote working arrangements.  Businesses are being reminded to put protocols in place for physical distancing and regular handwashing, to ensure the health and safety of workers and the community at large.

During a press conference yesterday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford also confirmed that details surrounding what compensation or relief, if any, will be made available to businesses arising from this mandatory closure should be made available on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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