Updated List of Essential Services in Ontario – Non Construction

As Ontario continues to reopen its economy, the province continues to update the essential services which are permitted to operate.

The Ontario Government has updated its list of essential businesses allowed to remain open and has also provided guidance as to how such businesses should operate.

Business places that are open must operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations made under it, as well as the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials.

Place of business may open for retail sales to the public if:

  • they use an alternative method of sale, such as curb side pick-up or delivery;
  • they have a public entrance that opens onto a street or exterior sidewalk; and
  • members of the public are not permitted to access the place of business, except in exceptional circumstances

 The list of essential services includes the following:

  • Supply chains supporting other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply such essential businesses or services outside of the province.
  • Food businesses that primarily sell food, beverage and consumer products necessary to maintain household and businesses including:
    • Supermarkets and grocery stores;
    • Convenience stores;
    • Discount and big box retailers selling groceries;
    • Restaurants (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only);
    • Beer and wine and liquor stores
  • Consumer products, including
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles (provided that members of the public can only enter the area in the business where vehicles are sold or displayed for sale by appointment);
    • Garden centres and plant nurseries, including greenhouses that engage in retail sales to the public;
    • Hardware stores; and
    • Safety supply stores
  • Services including, but not limited to
    • Pharmacies;
    • Gas stations and other fuel suppliers;
    • Automated and self-service car washes;
    • Laundromats and drycleaners;
    • Lawn care services and landscaping services;
    • Security services for residences, businesses and other properties;
    • Vehicle and equipment repair;
    • Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services;
    • Funeral and related services;
    • Veterinary services (urgent only);
    • Home Child Care Services up to six children as permitted by legislation;
    • Hotels, motels other shared rental accommodations;
    • Seasonal campgrounds, provided that
      • campsites are only provided to individuals who not have another residence in Canada and are in need of housing during the emergency period;
      • only campsites with electricity, water service and facilities for sewage disposal are provided for use;
      • campsites are made available only for trailers and recreational facilities; and
      • all recreational facilities in the campground, and all other shared facilities in the campground, such as bathrooms, are closed;
    • Golf courses (provided that no member of the public is permitted to use the golf course and the course is only open for the purpose of preparing it to be reopened to the public).
  • Cheque cashing services Financial services, including
    • Banking/Credit union activities including credit intermediation
    • Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services;
    • Insurance;
    • Land registration services;
    • Real estate agent services
      • Businesses that provide real estate agent services must not host, provide or support any open house events.
    • Pension and benefits payment services; and
    • Financial services, including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services.
  • Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers
  • Maintenance, repair, and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.
  • Transportation services including
    • Transportation services provided by air, water, road and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers
    • Support services for transportation including
      • logistical support;
      • services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems  including maintenance and repairs, and
      • marinas that repair or service boats or watercraft, place boats or other watercraft in the water to be secured to a dock until the marina is open to the public; and
      • any other service that may be required to enable individuals to access their place of residence or their property, support government operations or services, or support the transportation of items by commercial barges
    • Businesses that provide and support online retail.
  • Manufacturing, including businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers
  • Agriculture and food production, including businesses that
    • produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants by farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;
    •  process, manufacture or distribute food, beverages, crops, agricultural products, animal products and by-products;
    • support the food or agricultural supply chains and the health and safety of food, animal and plants
  • Resources and energy including but not limited to
    • Mining;
    • Forestry;
    • Petroleum;
    • Electricity generation.
  • Community services including
    • Sewage treatment and disposal;
    • Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste;
    • Potable drinking water;
    • Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
    • Environmental rehabilitation, management, monitoring, and spill clean up and response
    • Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses
    • Professional and social services that support that legal and justice system;
    • Government services that include, but not limited to, policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedic, coroner, and court services.
    • Allotment gardens or community gardens.
  • Research and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities
  • Sports training facilities that are operated by a team in one of the following leagues:
    • Canadian Football League;
    • Major League Baseball;
    • Major League Soccer;
    • National Basketball Association;
    • National Hockey League

in compliance with the following:

  • Sports teams operating training facilities for use by its players must ensure that
    • the facility may only be used if the team’s league has established a health and safety protocol for the use of training facilities and the facility is operated in compliance with the health and safety protocol;
    • the only people allowed to enter and use the facility are the players on the team who are using the facility for the purposes of training or conditioning and staff that are strictly necessary to operate the facility and support the training or conditioning of players
  • Research businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities.
  • Health care and social services including
    • Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities;
    • Home care or personal support services to seniors and person with disabilities;
    • Businesses that that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies;
    • Regulated health professionals (urgent care only) including dentists, optometrists, chiropractic services, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists and podiatrists;
    • Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports;
    • Laboratories and specimen collection centres;
    • Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies.
    • Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations.
    • Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities.
    • Not-for profit organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals.

Businesses include any for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein.

All businesses may continue to deliver work and services online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses

The complete list of essential businesses can be found on the Ontario Government website here.

For more information about the Safety Guidelines for Employers for the gradual reopening of the economy, please refer to our In a Flash article Ontario Announces Safety Guidelines for Employers for the Gradual Re-Opening of the Economy

Finally, the Ministry of Health has released a Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces, which may be accessed here

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.

Print article

More insights


Our complimentary webinars address the practical and legal issues for Canadian employers.

View our Webinars