COVID-19 Updates and Resources

Updated: 12 February, 2021

12 February, 2021 - Update on COVID-19 Measures in relation to Construction Activities

27 January, 2021 - MMAH Provides Clarity to Industry on Essential Construction Activities

13 January, 2021 - Update to Emergency Orders - January 2021

5 January, 2021 - WeirFoulds LLP: Business as Usual-ish: Construction Activities and a New Lockdown for Ontario

Fall 2020 - WeirFoulds: Fixed Fee Contract and Employment Legal Services

8 September, 2020 - Update from the Finance Committee

COVID-19 and Your ARIDO Membership
ARIDO Membership Support
What has been deemed an essential service or workplace? How does this impact the Interior Design Profession?
City of Toronto Services Disruption
WeirFolds COVID-19 Resource Portal
Canada’s Economic Response
Information on Financial Measures from Kriens-LaRose
HR Resources for Small Business
Contracts and Force Majeure
Additional Resources: Public Health Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Canada, WHO, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association


Update on COVID-19 Measures in relation to Construction Activities

On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the Stay-at-Home order was lifted in some regions of Ontario by the government allowing parts of the province to enter a phased re-opening framework.

Several regions saw the lifting of the Stay-at-Home order on February 10, with more regions to see these restrictions lifted on February 16, and final regions opening up on February 22. For a list of regions and the dates each region will no longer be under the province-wide shutdown by effective date, click here.

How Does This Impact Projects?

Regions No Longer Under a Stay-at-Home Order: All Construction Activities are Permitted The regions where the Stay-at-Home orders were lifted on February 10 have entered the re-opening framework, and all construction and construction activities are permitted. Click here to see which regions are included.

Regions Under a Stay-at-Home Order: Restrictions on Construction Activities For those regions which continue to be under the Stay-at-Home order, the shutdown and Stay-at-Home order continues. Construction activities remain limited to those deemed essential. WeirFoulds LLP has updated the list of essential construction activities which can be found here. The changes in this list from the previous regulation are bolded.

Non-residential Sector Projects Restrictions on non-residential activities are still in effect in regions that remain under the shutdown. As the Stay-at-Home order is lifted from these regions (February 16 and February 22), they will be moved to the COVID-19 Response Framework and this will result in no restriction on non-residential construction projects. Use this link to identify which regions remain shutdown and the anticipated date of the lifting of the Stay-at-Home Order.

Recent Changes to Residential Sector Projects As of February 10, 2021, all residential construction projects, related construction activities, and services including residential renovations across Ontario are now allowed to commence and continue, regardless of permit date or start work date. This is also regardless of region.

This also applies to residential construction in public health unit regions under the shutdown and in public health unit regions that are subject to the COVID-19 Response Framework.

MMAH Provides Clarity to Industry on Essential Construction Activities

On January 20, 2021, ARIDO participated in a stakeholder meeting held by Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) in order to provide the design and construction industry with clarity on the revised emergency orders and new restrictions impacting the industry which took effect January 12, 2021.
ARIDO identified several points of clarity that are not clear in the province’s essential construction activities list that we feel important to share with our members . . .

Click here to read the complete update.

Update to Emergency Orders - 13 January 2021

Ontario Enters Second State of Emergency
On January 12, 2021, the Ontario government announced that Ontario will be immediately put into a second State of Emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). The state of emergency will include a province-wide stay-at-home order and introduce a new set of essential and non-essential businesses effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday, January 14.

Across the province of Ontario, non-essential construction has been further restricted, including below-grade construction. The provincial government has not posted specific regulations as of yet but our legal partners, WeirFoulds LLP, have interpreted existing published government documents in an effort to provide clarity to the industry.

To view their article, please click here.

Essential Construction Activities
According to their review, certain classes of construction activities will be permitted to continue, including works related to infrastructure, education, prescribed industrial activities, and projects started prior to January 12, 2021 which are intended to increase capacity for businesses that provide logistical or information technology support. As it relates to residential construction the new regulation is expected to allow limited construction activities to continue, including all residential renovations which started before January 12, 2021.
The following is currently listed as essential construction:

  • Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector and long-term care, 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, or to provide new capacity in, provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy, mining, and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of, and provide new capacity in schools, colleges, universities, municipal infrastructure and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
  • Construction projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of Broadband internet and cellular technologies and services.
  • Critical industrial construction activities required for:
    • the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries;
    • significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced;
    • industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Construction projects that are due to be completed before July 2021 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
  • Construction projects that were commenced before January 12, 2021, and that would:
    • provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services, or
    • provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services.
  • Residential construction projects where:
    • a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    • the project is a condominium, mixed use or other residential building, or
    • the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021.
  • Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
  • Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
  • Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects, such as apartments and condominiums.
  • Construction on any project intended to provide either:
    • affordable housing, or
    • shelter or supports for vulnerable persons,
  • If the project is being funded in whole or in part by, or is being undertaken by, any of the following:
    • the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    • an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    • a municipality,
    • a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
    • a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

WeirFoulds will update this list once the regulation has been released. ARIDO will ensure we share the updated list or any other new information as it unfolds. The latest emergency information regarding the pandemic and an updated list of orders potentially impacting construction activities can be found at this link.

All other construction activities not classified as essential are required to stop throughout the duration of the state of emergency, or until the regulation is amended to change what construction activities may continue.


5 January, 2021 - WeirFoulds LLP: Business as Usual-ish: Construction Activities and a New Lockdown for Ontario

Although Ontario is heading back into lockdown starting this Boxing Day, for those in the construction industry it remains very much business as usual (which is to say, “usual” within the meaning of the last six months). Beginning at 12:01 AM on Saturday, December 26, 2020, the Ontario provincial government is reinstituting restrictions on organized events, social gatherings, and the workplaces that can remain open. For the time being this new lockdown will last until January 9, 2021 for areas in Northern Ontario and January 23, 2021 for those areas of Southern Ontario more impacted by COVID-19 . . . READ MORE


Fall 2020: WeirFoulds: Fixed Fee Contract and Employment Legal Services

A personal note from Faren Bogach Partner, WeirFoulds LLP

As 2020 comes to an end, it is hard not to reflect on the unprecedented business challenges the pandemic has posed. Disruptions in operations, delays, increased costs, workplace health and safety, employment and other contractual issues have transformed how we do business. Helping Canadian businesses adapt, plan and thrive during and beyond the pandemic is our goal and commitment to ARIDO members.

In June 2020, WeirFoulds LLP, a law firm in Toronto partnered with ARIDO and produced a five week series of tailored educational webinars designed to help ARIDO members stay informed of your legal rights, obligations and to provide members with the tools needed to equip you for future success.
The webinar series covered a wide range of hot topics including employment issues, updates to changes to Ontario’s Construction Act, site safety considerations, getting paid, succession planning and corporate structures, and commercial lease clauses.

A recent report from IBISWorld discussing the anticipated growth of the interior designers’ industry in Canada highlights a very positive outlook over the next 5 years. To support your business through this period of high demand, WeirFoulds has created a custom, fixed fee legal services solution designed specifically for ARIDO members. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be prepared for all scenarios, whether positive or a pandemic – making sure that your business comes out on top is where we can help.

Our package of reduced cost offerings covers everything from employment issues to agreements and policies, construction contracts, disputes and collections, risk management and incorporating your business. This fixed fee offering is valid until September 30, 2021.

I would like to personally thank ARIDO and its members for tuning into our series. We hope you review our offering and consider our legal services with respect to any of your future needs.

For more information, please visit our website or contact me directly.
Sincerely, Faren Bogach


Update from the Finance Committee

On September 8th, ARIDO released an update on the association's financial health. Click here to read the complete update from the ARIDO Finance Committee.


WeirFoulds: Planning Ahead in a COVID-19 World: Short and Long Term Considerations for Returning to an Office Workplace
Although Ontario’s state of emergency has been extended until June 2, 2020, Premier Doug Ford has announced that Ontario is entering stage one of a three-step plan to reopen the province. In light of this new development, businesses have turned their focus to preparing for the reopening of their physical workplaces, implementing the necessary precautions and adapting their operations to the “new normal”. Click here to read the complete article.

Osler: Addressing COVID-19 in future contracts for your construction project
Law firm Osler has an article on addressing COVID-19 in future projects, "Based on lessons learned to date, and given the need for the construction industry to move forward, it makes sense for parties to address the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic for forthcoming projects." Click here to read the article in full.

1 May, 2020 - WeirFoulds: Update on Construction Projects During COVID-19

On May 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced an expanded list of essential businesses and workplaces, including certain types of construction projects. This expanded list took effect May 4, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.
Our legal partners at WeirFoulds have provided an updated primer based upon their interpretation of the recent amendments to the orders. You can view the document at this link.

In reviewing the attached, please pay attention to the list enclosed of types of construction projects that may re-open.

Please also note, that included within the May 4, 2020 changes, the following is now listed under Construction:
30.1 Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
Legal counsel has identified that “site preparation” likely means that interior designers may attend on-site to perform preparation tasks such as assessments and inspections, and take measurements of a space. While this applies to any type of construction project, it remains that actual construction may not be able to commence unless the project falls into one of the categories of essential projects.


9 April, 2020 - WeirFoulds: Some Interior Design Services May be Considered an Essential Service
Our partners at WeirFoulds have developed a legal primer to assist ARIDO members in understanding when Interior Design Services may be considered an essential service following the amendments made by Ontario Government which took effect April 4, 2020. Click here to read the document.
We encourage all members to review this document to assist in your understanding of the current changes and how they may impact your services offered and existing projects.

3 April, 2020 - Changes to List of Essential Services

On April 3, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced changes to the original list of essential services which was originally released on March 23, 2020. To view the updated list, click here.
This list does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either operating online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.
Therefore, those design firms and organizations that have moved to and continue to deploy a Work from Home policy where employees are working remotely, can continue operating.

Removal of Professional Services
The list of Essential Services no longer lists professional services as an essential service as a separate category. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system are now the only professional services that have been identified as essential services.
Therefore, any business offering professional services should not keep their physical offices open. However, as mentioned above, those design firms that are working remotely can continue operating.
Permits
The following is listed as essential services:
Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits.

While permits is listed, please check the websites for municipalities in order to stay updated on any continuing, disrupted, altered or suspended services, along with changes to project related activities such as inspections. See below for additional updates.
Construction
Changes have been made by Ontario Government related to which Construction sites will remain operational. WeirFoulds, our legal partners, has released the following communication that outlines how these changes will impact which construction projects in Ontario may remain open and which ones will be shut down. You can view the communication here.

Municipality Updates The following Municipalities have released updates to their continued and suspended services lists. We encourage members to visit Municipality websites as needed to stay updated on what services are continued, what has been suspended and any changes that may impact how your projects continue.
City of Toronto – See Permits and Building Inspections on their website. City of Mississauga – See Planning and Building on their website.
Region of Halton – See Permits on their website.
City of Ottawa – See Planning, Development and Construction on their website.

For all other Municipalities, visit their website and visit their COVID-19 update section which will provide information to continued, disrupted or suspended services.

COVID-19 and Your ARIDO Membership
The ARIDO Offices will be closed and our staff will continue to work from home until further notice. We will continue to monitor developments in order to comply with government direction. ARIDO will continue offering membership support services remotely.

ARIDO Membership Support

We continue to take the following measures in order to keep ARIDO’s daily operations running:

  • The ARIDO offices will remain closed to the membership and public during this period.
  • ARIDO staff will continue working online from home to continue to carry out the organization’s daily operations and maintain our normal business hours.
  • Staff will be responding to emails daily and will check voicemails at the end of every business day. Our goal continues to be a response by the next business day.
  • All meetings will be held via teleconference or video-conference. We will not be holding meetings or appointments in person during this period.
  • We have ceased all non-essential travel across the organization.
  • With the exception of the AGM (streaming virtually), we are cancelling all upcoming events for the months of March, April and May. We will continue to monitor developments in order to determine if events beyond May should also be cancelled. Currently, this includes Chapter events.

Following the 2020 AGM on March 26, 2020, the ARIDO Board of Management will regroup in April to discuss ways in which the organization can support our members and the profession during this time. We will review our 2020/2021 Strategic Plan and operating budget to determine which priorities, which have been identified for 2020, can be adjusted to support the membership and the profession in Ontario. We will report back to you with updates on additional support services within the coming month.

City of Toronto Services Disruption

While the Government of Ontario listed Municipal Services, including permits, as an “Essential Service”, please note the city of Toronto has cancelled most city-operated programs and have closed a number of City facilities.

These service disruptions are intended to support in slowing the rate of COVID-19 infection in Toronto.
Please visit the city’s webpage here for more information.

Services Impacting Interior Designers - PERMITS

Current services which will continue:

  • 24/7 emergency building inspections services.
  • Building permit inspection reports can now be conducted by a qualified professional in lieu of a City inspector.
  • Issuing building permits that were ready to be issued prior to March 16

Suspended services:

  • There will be no new Building, Sign Permit and Zoning intake, review and issuance.
  • No building inspection services by City inspectors other than emergency inspections.
  • Not currently addressing information requests or complaints.

The City is actively evaluating its needs and capability to safely allow for the following activities:

  • Providing occupancy inspections
  • Issuing building permits for critical projects that were received prior to March 16 that are ready to issue
  • Issuing critical building permits to allow construction to continue to the next phase of work

We will continue to monitor developments and keep the membership informed. Members are encouraged to check the City’s website for any updates.

Should you have any questions or wish to report similar closures in other municipalities, please reach out to Sharon Portelli, Executive Director at sportelli@arido.ca.

WeirFolds COVID-19 Resource Portal
This is an unprecedented time for every person and business in Canada and around the world. WeirFolds is a law firm in Toronto that ARIDO has been working closely with over the last several years. More recent work with them was the ARIDO Best Practices Tool for the Construction Lien Act released in 2019. We are very pleased to report that WeirFolds has stepped up to be a resource to organizations such as ARIDO and our members

They have developed a COVID-19 Resources Portal which includes the latest articles from their lawyers to help people and businesses navigate the situation. They include information on changes to legislation and the impacts on various industries. Like all of us, they will continue to monitor these developments and publish timely updates.

They have also set up a dedicated COVID-19 email address ( covid19@weirfoulds.com ) where you can send questions about your specific challenges. We recommend turning to them for any advice related to a project and the Construction Lien Act, Prompt Payment or for advice on contractual obligations for a current project where the Force Majeure clause is impacted. They have promised to do their best to respond as quickly as possible.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response
Federal Government has addressed financial measures that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 18, 2020 including:

  • Income tax filing and payment deadline extensions
  • Emergency support benefits for workers that don’t qualify for EI or receive paid sick leave
  • Small business wage subsidy
  • Student loan re-payment moratorium

Click here for a full breakdown of the announcement.

Information on Financial Measures from Kriens-LaRose
Kriens-LaRose
, ARIDO’s auditor, has offered assistance to our members by providing general guidance and knowledge related to the financial measures identified by government above. This support is available to those members who are not already using the services of a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) for their personal or business matters. Thomas Kriens can be contacted by email at kriens@krienslarose.com.

Members currently engaged in services by a CPA for personal or business matters should continue to engage them for advice in this area.

HR Resources for Small Business
The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has listed several resources on their website in response to COVID-19. Resources include Legal Updates, Employment Best Practices and Communicating with Employees, to name a few. You can view their list of free COVID-19 resources here.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has also released resources to serve as interim guidance for businesses and resources. You can access them here.

Contracts and Force Majeure
ARIDO has recently been in discussions with our partner construction and design associations and as part of the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario, to which ARIDO has a seat. The CDAO recently wrote to Ontario government on behalf of the construction and design industry. Discussions amongst the associations focused on the need for practitioners to be aware of contractual and practical obligations entered for a project. Specifically, any Force Majeure clauses that may not explicitly list "diseases," "plagues," "quarantine restrictions," and/ or "epidemics" as triggering events. Force Majeure clauses are an essential tool for risk allocation and frequently amended to industry-specific and project-specific risks that render performance impossible (or in some contracts, imprudent, substantially more difficult, or considerably more expensive). With a suitable force majeure clause, parties are generally excused from penalties or damages due to failed or delayed performance. To view the CDAO letter to government, click here.
 
We encourage our members to seek legal advice on existing contracts or new contracts you may be currently negotiating to ensure you are protected considering COVID-19. Obtaining proper legal guidance will assist you in understanding your contractual and practical obligations. Please contact Sharon Portelli, Executive Director at sportelli@arido.ca if you are in need of a referral to a lawyer that specializes in design and construction contracts.
 
Additional Resources
We recommend staying informed through the various websites that are actively monitoring and releasing updated information.
 
Public Health Ontario: The provincial authority for the most up-to-date resources on COVID19, including evolving public health guidelines.
 
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Includes ongoing updates on the provincial government response to the outbreak, including:

  • status of cases in Ontario;
  • current affected areas;
  • symptoms and treatments;
  • how to protect yourself and self-isolate; and,
  • updated Ontario news on the virus.

Health Canada: Outlines the actions being taken by the Government of Canada, including what is happening in provinces and communities across the country related to the virus.
 
World Health Organization: Updates the latest guidance and information related to the global outbreak and spread beyond Canadian borders.
 
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA): An excellent source of Health and Safety information and tools.
 
ARIDO will continue to monitor developments as they occur and will keep the membership informed during the coming weeks. Should you have any questions please reach out to the ARIDO staff, your local Chapter representative, or members of the Board of Directors.