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Latest updates on construction law and COVID-19

Author(s): Richard Wong, Roger Gillott, Lia Bruschetta, Andrew Wong, Jagriti Singh

Apr 15, 2020

For further information on the changes below or other construction matters, please contact one of the authors above or any member of our National Construction and Infrastructure Group.

Ontario’s regulation on mandatory closure of non-essential businesses

Ontario’s regulation on mandatory closure of non-essential businesses (discussed in our previous update), will now remain in effect until May 6, 2020.

On April 3, 2020, the regulations were amended to limit the list of essential construction-related businesses to the healthcare sector, critical provincial infrastructure, critical industrial construction activities and residential projects at specific stages. In addition, non-essential businesses could continue construction and maintenance activities necessary to (a) temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active; or (b) ensure ongoing public safety.

On April 10, 2020, the regulations were further amended to include construction projects that are due to be completed before October 4, 2020, and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.

The person responsible for a place of business must comply with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials on physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting.

We have provided practical answers to questions raised by industry stakeholders on the regulations in our webinar, which is available on-demand.

Construction Act – Lien periods and payment deadlines exempt from Suspension Order

The Ontario government previously issued an Order suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods for steps taken in proceedings in Ontario for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency (the Suspension Order). There was a lack of clarity regarding whether the Suspension Order extended deadlines under the Construction Act of Ontario (discussed in our previous update).

The Ontario government has now provided clarity on this point. The suspension will be lifted in respect of any limitation periods and procedural time periods under the Construction Act on April 16, 2020. Once lifted, parties will have the same amount of time to meet deadlines that had been remaining before the suspension began on March 16, 2020.

Accordingly, the deadlines under the Construction Act, including the timeframes in which to preserve and perfect construction liens, will begin running again on April 16, 2020. This is also intended to facilitate the release of holdback by owners, since owners will again have clarity on when the lien period expires.  

Stay tuned

As the response to the pandemic is evolving rapidly from a business continuity perspective, we encourage everyone to continue to stay informed as new developments arise and communicate to your employees, contractors, suppliers, subcontractors and other stakeholders. We have centralized relevant content on our “Coronavirus: Navigating legal implications and business impacts” client communication page.

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