Key building services remain among the now scoped number of enterprises still allowed to operate in Ontario and Quebec. Earlier this week, both provincial governments gave non-essential businesses a midnight March 25 deadline to shut down to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection. However, building owners, managers and occupants can be assured that life-safety systems, telecommunications, elevators/escalators and HVAC can be maintained and repaired as necessary, and that janitorial and security staff are permitted on-site.
Unlike Ontario and British Columbia, Quebec’s construction jobsites are now idled except if response to an emergency situation is required. In addition to building maintenance and on-site management, designated essential services of importance to the commercial and multi-residential sectors include:
- production, procurement, transmission and distribution of energy;
- electricians, plumbers and other trades for emergency services;
- hazardous materials management;
- insurance services;
- rental equipment services;
- garbage collection and residual materials management;
- emergency building and fire inspections; and
- snow removal and maintenance of functional road links;
Ontario landlords, tenants and homeowners will also be able to call on these services and some additional options. Notably, too, the list of essential provincial services explicitly includes “property management services” among the permitted “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.”
A list of essential environmental services goes beyond critical monitoring and response to hazardous materials/spills to include: environmental consulting firms; professional engineers and geoscientists; septic haulers; well drillers, pesticides applicators and exterminators; management of industrial sewage/effluent (e.g. for mining operations); and environmental laboratories.
Additionally, movers have been okayed to work in both Ontario and Quebec. Hotels remain open in both provinces.
The Quebec and Ontario governments continue to stress the responsibility of all employers and employees to follow Health Canada protocol and to take every precaution to protect the public and themselves.
“The stores and services covered by this list must ensure that the people in their establishments comply as far as possible with the principles of social distancing,” the Quebec government instructs. “It should be noted that all businesses can always engage in teleworking and e-commerce.”
“We call on workplaces that remain open to be vigilant and to enforce the highest possible standards of cleanliness and caution as we continue the fight together against COVID-19,” says Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.