Bulletins, Communiques & Advisories

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario municipalities receiving $500 million in provincial support to help offset COVID-19 expenses

No. 21/009 – March 5, 2021

Yesterday Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, announced that the Ontario government is providing an additional $500 million to help the province's 444 municipalities address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs. The new financial relief will help ensure the delivery of critical services and capital projects.

The funding is being prioritized by Queen’s Park to provide assistance to municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic. Municipalities will be able to direct these dollars to address their unique needs based on their COVID-19 related operating pressures. The funding is being allocated based on a combination of a base amount using Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) household data and an amount based on the proportion of provincial COVID-19 cases (from January 1, 2021 to February 18, 2021) in the municipality's respective Public Health Unit. A copy of the list of relief allocations to municipalities is available here.

This investment builds on $1.39 billion in operating funding that was previously provided to municipalities through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. Second phase allocations of the Safe Restart Agreement were made in December to ensure that no community entered 2021 facing an operating deficit from 2020.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Reminder for Member Firms to update MTO RAQS ESP Profiles by April 30, 2021

No. 21/008 – March 5, 2021

ACEC-Ontario is reminding member firms that the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is requiring Engineering Services Provider (ESP) Firms to ensure their qualifications information in their RAQS ESP profiles is updated by April 30, 2021.

After April 30th the MTO will only consider qualification information from the RAQS ESP portal when reviewing submitted bid intents for the purpose of determining whether the ESP firm has met the qualification requirements stipulated in the procurement documents. Historical qualification information in the legacy RAQS will no longer be used by the MTO for this purpose.

Details on how firms who have not yet done so can migrate their legacy information to the new system is located in the recently published MTO reminder notice to Engineering Services Provider (ESP) Firms which can be downloaded here.  

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario preparing to rollout Phase Two of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

No. 21/007 – March 5, 2021

The Ontario government is preparing to move into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan next month, with a focus on vaccinating populations based on age and risk.

With vaccine supply stabilizing and over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government before the end of March, the province is looking to have up to 9 million Ontarians vaccinated between April 2021 and July 2021.

During Phase Two, groups that will receive the vaccine include:

  • Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
  • Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
  • Certain workers who cannot work from home.

 

Phase One of Ontario's vaccination rollout is already underway, with 820,000 doses administered and over 269,000 Ontarians immunized. Over 95% of long-term care residents have been fully immunized and public health units are working with long-term care homes to vaccinate staff and essential caregivers. Some local public health units have also been able to vaccinate some people over 80 before the anticipated timeframe of mid-March.

Starting March 15, the province will launch an online booking system and a provincial customer service desk to answer questions and support appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. This will initially support individuals over the age of 80 as part of Phase One, eventually extending to more groups during Phase Two. While some public health units are currently using their own booking systems to vaccinate individuals aged 80 and over, it is anticipated that the majority of public health units will transition to the provincial booking system after it has launched.

The National Advisory on Committee on Immunization (NACI) has provided the recommendation to extend the vaccination dose interval up to four months for all Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines. The extension of dose intervals along with the approval of new vaccines, such as the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will help the province to reforecast and maximize the number of people receiving a first dose in a shorter timeframe, pending supply from the federal government. Ontario has accepted and will follow NACI's recommendations starting March 10, with some limited exceptions.

As supply increases, Ontarians will have access to the three Health Canada approved vaccines in several new settings. In addition to hospitals, mobile clinics and mass vaccination clinics, the province is working with the pharmacy sector and primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care and community settings. A pilot for pharmacy vaccine administration is also planned for mid-March in select regions, including Toronto, Windsor and the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington region, followed by specific primary care pilots in collaboration with public health units.

Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines become available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandated, Ontarians will be strongly encouraged to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.

Should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario extends emergency orders, Stay-at-Home orders remain in effect for Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound until at least March 8

No. 21/006 – February 18, 2021

 The Government of Ontario’s emergency orders have been extended until March 21under the Reopening Ontario Act, the province is maintaining the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures are in effect for an additional two weeks in the Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions, along with the North Bay-Parry Sound District. The York Public Health Region will transition out of the shutdown and into the revised COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. Thirty public health regions have now transitioned back into the province's colour-coded framework.

In the Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions, and the North Bay-Parry Sound District, the shutdown measures and the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until at least Monday, March 8, 2021, based on key public health indicators and following consultation with the local medical officers of health. While the Peel and Toronto regions have seen a reduction in COVID-19 transmission from the period of February 8 to 17, 2021, rates still remain too high, with case rates of 83.4 cases per 100,000 people for Peel and 67.9 cases per 100,000 people for Toronto, both well above the provincial average. During this same period of time, North Bay Parry Sound District has also seen its case rate increase by 11.5 per cent to 14.6 cases per 100,000 people. Variants of concern also remain a serious risk to community transmission and health system capacity.

Based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, York Region Public Health will be moving back to the Provincial Reopening Framework at the Red-Control level and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order. In addition, Lambton Public Health will be moving from the Orange-Restrict level to the Red-Control level as a result worsening public health trends in the region over the past week. These changes will come into effect on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

After returning to the Framework, public health regions are required to stay in their level for at least two weeks. The government will then assess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if the region should stay where it is or be moved to a different level. Public health regions may be moved to a higher level within the two-week window, if necessary, based on the set indicators and thresholds outlined in the Framework. In addition, Ontario has introduced an "emergency brake" to allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately advise moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.

The province currently has reported a total of 289,621 COVID-19 cases — 359 of which have tested positive for variants of concern. With the new variants and their potential to create a “third-wave, it is important to stay vigilant and all follow public health directives.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with public health and other experts, review data, and provide advice to the government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians. 

Should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

Member Communiqué: What is a “Consulting Engineer” in Ontario?

“Consulting Engineer” - it has a nice ring to it, looks good on a business card, sounds really important! What does it actually mean? What does it allow you to do? What standard does it hold you to? Why would you spend the money and effort to obtain the designation?

With our recent name change, we thought it timely to provide some insight and discussion on the “Consulting Engineer” designation, the use of which is controlled by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO). Consulting engineering companies are in the business of offering and providing professional engineering services to third party clients and therefore must hold a Certificate of Authorization (C of A) from PEO, and must employ licensed professional engineers.  However, having a C of A does not allow such firms and their P.Eng. staff to automatically use the “Consulting Engineer” designation. PEO has a separate set of rules for that.

For individuals, PEO grants the “Consulting Engineer” designation to engineers who submit an application documenting appropriate experience and pay a fee. Upon acceptance, a designated consulting engineer has no unique scope of practice beyond that of any other P.Eng., and they don’t have any special professional development or regulatory obligations. They are simply entitled to refer to themselves as a “Consulting Engineer”.

Companies that wish to use the term “Consulting Engineers” in their name or in their promotional material must secure PEO’s permission to do so. That permission is easily obtained, as the only requirements are that the firm have a designated “Consulting Engineer” on staff who is also identified on the firm’s C of A, plus the payment of a fee. The use of the words “Consulting Engineers” does not hold the company to any higher standard or greater scrutiny than through the firm’s C of A.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America to regulate the “Consulting Engineer” designation separately from the P.Eng. and C of A. Since there is nothing that a “Consulting Engineer” can do that any other P.Eng. or C of A holder can’t do (except use the words), it is the position of ACEC-Ontario that separate regulation of the title is unnecessary. It does not afford additional protection of the public interest, which is PEO’s mandate. The designation’s only purpose is as a marketing tool and should be viewed in that light. A regulatory body should not be involved in marketing tools for their licence holders and should not be requiring payment from its members to allow the use of words that are unregulated in every other jurisdiction.  PEO does not regulate the use of “Electrical Engineer”, “Municipal Engineer” or “Structural Engineer” titles beyond the P.Eng. framework, so why is “Consulting Engineer” singled out for extra regulation?

Interestingly, fewer than half of ACEC-Ontario’s member firms have permission from PEO to use the designation. The other firms refer to themselves “Consultants” or “Engineers”, but steer clear of the words “Consulting Engineers” to stay onside of PEO’s regulations. The number of designated “Consulting Engineers” has declined steadily over the past decade, with PEO reporting in 2019 that only 964 of the 85,857 professional engineers licensed in Ontario hold the designation.

ACEC-Ontario continues to encourage PEO and the Ministry of the Attorney General to eliminate this unnecessary layer of regulation and expense to our members and harmonize PEO’s regulatory framework with those of the other Canadian jurisdictions.  We note that ACEC-Ontario has stringent criteria for membership, and it is our belief is that membership in ACEC-Ontario should be seen as an indicator of superior qualification and stature in our industry. We are exploring mechanisms to promote this under the current strategic plan.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario announces updated provincial reopening framework: State of emergency to expire, but concern of potential accelerated spread of “COVID variants” tempers cautious optimism of lower trend in reported cases

No. 21/005 – February 8, 2021

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government of Ontario is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the "Framework").

The government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.

Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.

Based on the improving local trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, the following three regions will be moving back to the Framework at the Green-Prevent level on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order:

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit.

Due to the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will be amended and individual orders making it applicable to each public health region will be made except for the three above. It is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, it is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, February 22, 2021. Final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.

Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province's pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an "emergency brake" to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.

In addition, the provincial emergency declared under s 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) will be allowed to terminate at the end of February 9, 2021. While the provincewide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, 2021, everyone is strongly advised to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and limit close contacts to their household. Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

Orders currently in force under the EMCPA have been extended to February 23, 2021 and will be extended further if necessary. O.Reg.55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes) is currently in effect until February 19, 2021.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with public health and other experts, review data, and provide advice to the government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians. Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region.

New Virus Strains Demand Vigilance

While the government has announced that is implementing a phased lifting of restrictions on the economy and limits to in-person learning for students, the underlying message to Ontarians remains to “stay home” unless there is an absolute need to be out in public to attend to essential needs.

The expiration of the stay-at-home order has taken some pressure off the provincial health care system, enabling it to refocus efforts and resources on remaining hotspots. However, the message coming with the phased easing of restrictions and return of the colour-coded alert system is travel only as necessary.

New COVID virus variants are of prime concern for public health officials. Strains from the UK, South Africa and Brazil have now been identified in Ontario and pose the potential risk for rapidly accelerating the spread of the pandemic. The significantly greater transmissibility of these new variant strains are presenting an as yet not fully understood public health risk. Officials are dealing with infected individuals who do not have a recent travel history or exposure to people who have recently travelled internationally. Despite following public health protocols, other reported cases are resulting from public exposure of less than 15 minutes. Along with easier transmission, these new variants are also presenting much shorter incubation periods, as little as 12 hours, and a potential for increased resilience to currently available vaccines.

While the consulting engineering sector is deemed “essential”, ACEC-Ontario recommends that member firms continue to observe enhanced public health and safety protocols and to utilize opportunities and resources to work remotely wherever possible.

Should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: MTO prompts Engineering Services Firms to update RAQS EPS Profiles

No. 21/004 – January 29, 2021

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is notifying Engineering Services Provider (ESP) Firms that they need to ensure their qualifications information in their RAQS ESP profiles is updated by April 30, 2021.

The ministry’s legacy registry, appraisal and qualification system (RAQS) was replaced in June, 2109 with a new electronic procurement portal, RAQS ESP. Having gone live in November, 2019, the new system is a “one stop” portal enabling firms to manage their participation in ministry procurements from qualification through to vendor performance.

The ministry will no longer be referencing legacy RAQS qualification information as of April 30, 2021. Firms that have not migrated their procurement qualification information to the RAQS ESP system by this date will be treated as a new applicant.

Details on how firms who have not yet done so can migrate their legacy information to the new system is located in the recently published MTO notice to Engineering Services Provider (ESP) Firms. A copy of the notice can be downloaded here.  

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario extends state of emergency and stay-at-home order

No. 21/003 – January 26, 2021

The Ontario government has extended the declared provincial emergency for an additional 14 days. The declaration of emergency made under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), originally declared on January 12, 2021, will now expire on February 9, 2021, unless extended further. All orders under the EMCPA, including O. Reg 11/21 (Stay-at-Home Order), O. Reg 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) and O. Reg 13/21 (Residential Evictions) were also extended. Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) continue to be in force.

Under the extended state of emergency, the following public health measures remain in place:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

 

Please click here to read ACEC-Ontario’s previous bulletin for more details on the state of emergency, essential construction, enforcement measures, and workplace safety.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of Transportation affirms consultant’s essential business status, Government updates essential construction list: Consulting industry facing minimal impacts with new conditions

No. 21/002 – January 19, 2021

In response to the Ontario government’s declaration of a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) last Tuesday, January 12 and the subsequent issuing of a stay-at-home order that came into effect Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the Ministry of Transportation has affirmed the “essential business” status of the consultants engaged in its projects.

In a letter to ACEC-Ontario, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Transportation Infrastructure Management Division, Jennifer Graham Harkness, stated that:

The ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of the provincial highway network is critical to ensuring that highways, roads and associated elements, including bridges and culverts, are safe for use by the travelling public including commercial vehicles. Consequently, businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure including bridges and highways were designated as “Businesses That May Open” pursuant to Schedule 2 of O. Reg. 82/20 made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

In light of this, the Ministry’s position is that your members, working to fulfill commitments under contract to the Province, may continue in these efforts, taking into account their individual operating circumstances.

The MTO has informed ACEC-Ontario that consulting companies who are presently engaged on MTO projects will each be provided an individually addressed letter confirming their “essential business” status. To read the full letter please click here.

Essential Construction

Also note that over the weekend the government made changes to the essential construction list that was provided in our earlier bulletin. These updates are intended to provide some better definitional clarity. The link to the provincial shutdown resource page is available here.

The updated list of permitted essential construction business is also included below for your reference:

Construction

  • Construction activities or projects and related services, including land surveying and demolition services, that:
    • are associated with the healthcare sector or and long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
    • ensure safe and reliable operations of, or provide new capacity in,
      • municipal infrastructure, or
      • provincial infrastructure, including but not limited to the transit, transportation, resource, energy, and justice sectors
    • support the operations of, or provide new capacity in, electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage, natural gas distribution, transmission and storage or in the supply of resources
    • support the operations of, or provide new capacity in schools, colleges, universities, and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
    • are required for,
      • the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
      • significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced before January 12, 2021,
      • industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19covid 19 pandemic.
    • would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
    • 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.
    • support the operations of broadband internet and cellular technologies and services.
    • are related to residential construction projects where,
      • a building 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.
    • prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
    • are necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
    • are funded in whole or in part by:
      • 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, or
      • a municipality
    • are:
      • intended to provide shelter or supports for vulnerable persons or affordable housing; and
      • being funded in whole or in part by, or being undertaken by:
        • 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,
        • a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada), or
        • a not-for profit corporation
  • Land surveyors

Enhanced with:

  • Workplace testing
  • Additional enforcement to ensure compliance

Impact on Consulting Engineering and Enhanced Public Health and Safety Measures

The vast majority of the consulting engineering sector will see minimal impacts from the new government orders and regulations. Suspension of construction and construction-related work will largely apply to home renovations and commercial assignments that had not yet started as of January 12, 2021. The delays will be in effect for the 28 days of the order or until it is lifted by the government.

ACEC-Ontario is encouraging member firms to be mindful of the stay at home order and to adhere to the enhanced public health and safety measures in the workplace and at home as best as they are able.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin, particularly the details pertaining to definitions of the essential business classification for construction and construction-related services, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected]

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario declares second state of emergency and issues stay-at-home order, essential business status of construction sector largely unchanged

No. 21/001 – January 12, 2021

In response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province's hospital system and risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people's mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

These new public health measures are intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by reducing concerning levels of mobility as the province continues its vaccine rollout and ramps up to mass vaccination when the federal government is able to provide the necessary supply to do so.

Additional Public Health Restrictions

Since the implementation of the provincewide shutdown over two weeks ago, the latest modelling trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen, forecasting an overwhelming of the health system unless drastic action is taken. Escalating case counts have led to increasing hospitalization rates and intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy which has resulted in cancellations of scheduled surgeries and procedures.

Provincial modelling shows growth in COVID-19 cases has accelerated, leading to increased hospitalization rates and ICU occupancy. ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is projected to be as high as 1,000 beds by early February which has the potential to overwhelm Ontario's hospitals. The number of COVID-19-related deaths continues to rise and is expected to double from 50 to 100 deaths per day between now and the end of February. Notably, data shows that mobility and contacts between people have not decreased with the current restrictions.  A new variant of COVID-19 emerged in November. If community transmission of this variant occurs, Ontario could experience much higher case counts, ICU occupancy and mortality.

In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the government will enact the following additional public health measures:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey. See below for further details.

 

These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

To help quickly identify and isolate cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and service providers permitted to remain open such as long-term care homes and schools, the province will provide up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week to support key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes. This volume of rapid tests would support antigen screening for up to 150,000 workers per week over the next 4-5 months in Ontario's most critical workplaces. The province is expecting to receive 12 million Panbio tests from the federal government over the next several months and continues to pursue opportunities to purchase additional rapid tests.

The additional public health restrictions introduced expand on the existing measures put in place.

Essential Construction

The Ontario government has updated the list of construction projects deemed essential, and that list includes:

  • 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:
    1. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    2. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    3. industrial constriction 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 combatting 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,
    1. 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,
    1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    2. the project is a condominium, mixed use or other residential building, or
    3. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021
  • Construction to prepare a sit 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. The Ontario government also provided that businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines.
  • Construction on any project intended to provide either,
    1. affordable housing, or
    2. 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:
    1. the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    2. an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
    3. a municipality,
    4. a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
    5. a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

ACEC-Ontario will provide more  related details as they become available.

New Enforcement Measures

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA. 

In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.

Workplace Safety

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.

Evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections to date shows the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working. However, when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene.

As part of the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores. The Ministry is also using a new data-sharing program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Retirement Regulatory Authority, to focus onsite inspections of long-term-care homes and retirement homes.

In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada's Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Over the summer, the government enacted a new regulatory amendment that put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19, ensuring businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government is funding a temporary income support program that allows workers to take up to 10 days of leave related to COVID-19, preventing the risk of further spread in the workplace and allowing workers to focus on their health.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin, particularly the details pertaining to definitions of the essential business classification for construction and construction-related services, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario announces province-wide shutdown

No. 20/084 – December 21, 2020

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a province-wide shutdown. The shutdown will go into effect as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.

The province-wide shutdown will put in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures similar to those in other jurisdictions. It would help stop the trend of high COVID-19 transmission in communities, preserve health system capacity, and safeguard vulnerable populations and those who care for them. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings - curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls - patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.


On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

The current COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused when the province-wide shutdown comes into effect. The impacts of these time-limited measures will be evaluated throughout the 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will assess and apply lessons learned thus far to the COVID-19 Response Framework to ensure appropriate and effective measures are in place to protect the health of Ontarians and enable economic recovery after the Provincewide Shutdown ends. This will include an assessment of how a revised approach for the safe reopening of retail may be operationalized, according to the latest available evidence.

The government is also providing $12.5 million to implement a High Priority Communities Strategy to contain the virus in high-risk communities. The strategy will take a tailored, community-based approach to fund community agencies in 15 priority communities in the York, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, and Toronto regions. The funding will also allow for the hiring of community ambassadors to make people aware of available services and assistance, for coordination of increased testing opportunities and for the arrangement of wraparound supports for those who are COVID-positive. Additional funding of $42 million will also be available to establish isolation centres.

The province will work with local municipal partners to establish new isolation centres to help those who may need to isolate following testing.

The government is working to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in workplaces by supporting essential businesses in doing whatever is necessary to keep workers safe. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is leading a multi-ministry COVID-19 Safety Team. The team will partner with local authorities to carry out additional enforcement blitzes in sectors where they are needed most.

The New Ontario Small Business Support Grant

The government is announcing a new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.

Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the province-wide shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. For example, some businesses will need support paying employee wages or rent, while others will need support maintaining their inventory.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
  • Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.


Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar-for-dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the province-wide shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.

Essential businesses that are allowed to remain open will not be eligible for this grant. More information about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant is available here. Further details, including how to apply, will be announced in January 2021.

Businesses that are impacted by the provincewide shutdown will also be eligible for the property tax and energy cost rebates. In November, the government launched a program to provide rebates to offset fixed costs such as property tax and energy bills for businesses that are required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures. These Ontario Small Business Support Grant rebates will continue to be available for businesses impacted by the provincewide shutdown and earlier restrictions. Business can apply for the rebates here.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario Publishes Draft Northern Ontario Transportation Plan

No. 20/083 – December 11, 2020

The government of Ontario yesterday released its draft transportation plan for Northern Ontario as part of its plan to build a better transportation network for the Region. The document outlines more than 60 actions to expand highways and transit services, create Northern economic opportunities, maintain public safety and provide reliable travel options for remote and First Nation communities.

Details were provided by Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and MPP for Nipissing, Vic Fedeli and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, Ross Romano.

The plan includes improvements to rest areas, expanding bus service and moving forward with highway widening projects on key corridors in the region, such as Highway 11/17. It also includes actions to make further progress on the government’s plan for passenger rail service in the North.

It is the intention of the plan to provide a tailored strategy that recognizes the unique needs and promotes economic recovery and development across the North while building a modern, connected transportation network that will foster new community opportunities.

The draft transportation plan is a living document that will continue to evolve. The province will work closely with the federal government, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, transportation agencies and local businesses to gather input and feedback on the plan.

A detailed backgrounder is available here.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Infrastructure Minister Releases Infrastructure Ontario P3 Market Update

No. 20/082 – December 11, 2020

Issue:

Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott yesterday afternoon released Infrastructure Ontario’s latest P3 Market Update. The document details the status of the province’s 40 major infrastructure projects, including 16 civil (such as transit, subways, highways), and 24 social, in procurement or pre-procurement, valued at more than $60 billion.

The now quarterly published update, while not containing any substantial changes from the previous version, still provides industry with important transparency to market sensitive “line-of-sight” information detailing project procurement and delivery status and government investment intentions.

Highlights from the P3 Market Update include:

  • The Request for Qualifications for the Hamilton Health Sciences - West Lincoln Memorial Hospital project was issued in November 2020;
  • The QEW Credit River Bridge will reach Financial Close in December 2020;
  • The Request for Proposals for the Ontario Line - Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance and Southern Civil, Stations and Tunnel packages, will be issued in December 2020;
  • The Thunder Bay Correctional Complex will reach Financial Close in 2022;
  • The Request for Proposal for Grandview Children's Treatment Centre has moved to March 2021, and Financial Close has moved to winter 2022; and,
  • Under the newly created Rapid Procurement and Delivery Program, the Solicitor General — Segregation Capital Program procurement began in November 2020 and will close in March 2021.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario has Extended COVID-19 Orders to January 20, 2021

No. 20/081 – December 10, 2020

 On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Government of Ontario is extending all orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) until January 20, 2021. The extension is meant to support the safe delivery of health care and other critical services until COVID-19 vaccines are approved and widely available. There are no new impacts for the consulting engineering industry.

As it prepares to implement its province-wide immunization program, the extended orders will provide authorities and agencies with the means to address urgent public health situations until all Ontarians can be vaccinated.

Effective December 7, 2020, under the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, the government, in consultation with health officials, amended O.Reg. 363/20 (Stages of Reopening) to move three public health units to new levels. This action imposed stricter public health measures in an effort to reduce transmission in these regions and avoid broader closures.

The government also made amendments to O. Reg 82/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 1) under the ROA, which applies to public health unit regions in the Stage 1 lockdown. These amendments, which came into force December 4, 2020, permit indoor farmer's markets that primarily sell groceries, to be open. For post-secondary institutions, the amendments increase the limit on the number of persons permitted in an instructional space at any one time for in-person instruction or in-person exams from 10 to 50 people for certain programs critical to supporting the health care workforce as set out in the order.

The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online on the Government of Ontario's website.

As the province prepares for the arrival of vaccines, it remains vitally important that everyone continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home if you have any symptoms, even mild; maintaining two metres of physical distancing from everyone else other than household members; avoiding social gatherings; adhering to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings; wearing a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required; washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.

As always, should you have any questions about this bulletin or about how the government’s pandemic-related orders apply to your business, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of Transportation Offering Pilot Program Access to the Provincial Supply of Panbio Antigen COVID-19 Screening

No. 20/080 – December 9, 2020

In its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 while supporting the safe and full re-opening of Ontario’s economy, the province is now in a position to expand the COVID-19 screening support it can provide to employers.

The government of Ontario is seeking participants (private, public, non-profit sector employers) interested in receiving Panbio antigen screening tests from the province to implement an antigen screening program for asymptomatic workers on a pilot basis. Access to this program is being made available to the consulting engineering industry through the Ministry of Transportation.

The government will be accepting applications to participate in this pilot program from a broad range of workplace settings; however, there are four settings that will be prioritized for access: healthcare settings, essential frontline services, congregate settings, and industry.

The Panbio is a rapid antigen screening device that can be used onsite at workplaces, with professional oversight, and provides a test result within 15 minutes. The Panbio is not a ‘consumer’ point of care test, and must be used within the current licensing and regulatory requirements (further detailed below). An overview of how the test is used, can be found here.

While antigen screening is not preventative and should not be used as a substitute for appropriate prevention activities such as symptom screening, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, there remains interest in using rapid tests as an additional screening tool to support the health and safety of workers, and regular business activity in the province.

The government of Ontario will provide Panbio antigen screening devices at no cost to the employer for use in this pilot program, if the following conditions are met:

Conditions of Access:

  • Participating employers assume pilot program implementation costs (other than the tests, which will be provided for free by the government).

 

  • Participating employers must ensure that:

 

  • The test must be performed by an employer physician, who performs laboratory tests for the exclusive purpose of diagnosing or treating his or her own patients in the course of his or her medical practice at the organization.

 

  • Swabbing must be conducted by a regulated health professional. This is because the Panbio currently uses the NP swab, and NP swabbing is a controlled act.

 

  • This activity is authorized to Nurse Practitioners and Physicians, although there is delegation by these professionals to others, such as Registered Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses.

 

  • Participating employers agree to use the Panbio antigen screening test within the following guidelines provided by the CMOH:

 

  • Testing in this workplace screening pilot should only be performed on asymptomatic individuals who are not a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, have not been directed to isolate by public health, and are not associated with an outbreak.

 

  • Testing of symptomatic individuals, close contacts of positive cases, or individuals associated with an outbreak is not in scope of this screening pilot and rapid tests should not be used for this purpose in the pilot.

 

  • A positive result on a rapid antigen screening device is considered a preliminary positive and should be followed up by a laboratory-PCR test to confirm.

 

  • The employer must inform the employee that they need to receive a confirmatory test.

 

  • An employee can make an appointment at an assessment centre for this confirmatory test.

 

  • Additional details on reporting requirements will be provided in supporting materials.

 

  • The frequency of antigen screening, overall program design and use of these devices can be determined by the employer. For example

 

  • An organization could use the tests for regular screening, or a one-time screening initiative of asymptomatic employees (assuming that there are no positive cases associated with the workplace).

 

  • The province will provide enough tests for screening employees up to a frequency of 3x/week for a period of 8 weeks at participating sites.

 

  • Participating employers provide data to the government on the pilot program:

 

  • Number of tests used, how many tests resulted in a positive, (additional information, if known regarding the number of true positives).

 

  • The government may request additional information throughout the course of the pilot program.

 

Length & Objectives of Pilot Program

This pilot program is expected to remain in effect for up to 6 months, to March 31, 2021, as part of the province’s pandemic response. Changes or extensions to this timeline may be communicated in future.

This pilot program is an important opportunity for the government to gain knowledge about the value of antigen screening for asymptomatic workers in a range of workplace settings; while also increasing the range of COVID-19 supports it can offer to support the safe recovery of the economy.

Please note, that tests distributed through this pilot program are to be used only for Ontario-based employees of the recipient organizations.

Safety Alert

Antigen screening is not considered to be an effective preventive measure for COVID-19 on its own and does not replace public health strategies such as symptom screening, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

Large scale asymptomatic testing does not serve as an early warning signal for COVID-19. If you or your employee is: symptomatic or a close contact of a positive case, or associated with an outbreak, you must access a COVID-19 test by making an appointment at an assessment centre, nearest locations listed here.

Process for Access

If ACEC-Ontario member firms are interested in participating in phase 2 or phase 3 of this pilot program once/if:

  • The test receives approval to use a different kind of swab (e.g., nasal swab); or
  • If the pilot no longer requires physician oversight

 

Please inform David Zurawel so that you can be connected with the ministry to be notionally included in the program.

Similarly, for further information about this program contact David Zurawel at [email protected]. or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario identifies key groups to receive initial distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

No. 20/079 – December 7, 2020

The Ontario government has announced that it is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are received, beginning with vaccinating vulnerable populations and those who care for them. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups.

Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
  • Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
  • Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

 

Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones. The immunization program will focus on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in those regions.

Vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of December and following approval, there will be a three-phase plan to roll out the vaccination with broad timelines. At first, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18 years old based on early clinical trials. As further information becomes available from clinical trials and from Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change.

Ontario's approach is based on evidence available, the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, as well as recommendations from the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. Members, including ex-officio members, of the task force include experts in public health and immunization, health and clinical domains, ethics, behavioural science, operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, and information technology and data.

Vaccination is expected to be an effective way to prevent the spread and reduce the impact of COVID-19. Only vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective will be approved for use in the country. Before any vaccines are available in Ontario or Canada, they will undergo rigorous clinical trials to determine if they are safe and effective, and be evaluated and authorized for use by Health Canada using rigorous standards. Once a vaccine is approved and in use, Health Canada will continue to monitor it to ensure it continues to be safe and effective.

As the province prepares for the arrival of vaccines, it remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home if you have any symptoms, even mild; maintaining two metres of physical distancing from everyone else other than household members; avoiding social gatherings; adhering to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings; wearing a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required; washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario moves Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown, other public health units shifted to higher level restrictions

No. 20/078 – November 20, 2020

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, the province is moving certain public health unit regions to new levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, which includes moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown. These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province's most vulnerable populations.

Over the past week, some regions under the Red-Control level have continued to see worsening trends in key indicators, despite having a range of public health measures and restrictions in place since early October. Based on the latest data, the government will  move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. This action is being taken to help stop the spread of COVID-19, while prioritizing the continued opening of schools, child care centres and other key services to the fullest extent possible.

Measures under Lockdown include, but are not limited to:

  • Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
  • Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
  • No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
  • Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
  • Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;
  • Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
  • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
  • Personal care services closed;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
  • Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to provide advice to the government using criteria, including:

  • Epidemiological indicators such as the number and rate of COVID-19 cases and test positivity;
  • Health system capacity indicators including hospital and Intensive Care Unit capacity, access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Public health sector capacity, including the number of COVID-19 cases and contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

Based on the latest data, the following public health unit regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Red-Control
    • Durham Region Health Department; and
    • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.

  • Orange-Restrict
    • Huron Perth Public Health;
    • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
    • Southwestern Public Health; and
    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

  • Yellow-Protect
    • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
    • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
    • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
    • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
    • Peterborough Public Health; and
    • Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

Please visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse for the full list of public health region classifications.

Trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level. The Ministry of Health will continue to communicate regularly with local medical officers of health on local context and conditions to help inform the classification of their public health unit region.

The province is also making additional enforcement mechanisms available to local medical officers of health who have applied additional measures based on their local conditions and needs. The government is amending Ontario Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act, allowing for a ticket to be issued for any contravention of a COVID-19 specific communicable disease class order issued by a medical officer of health. The government will also ask the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to establish a set fine to be attached to any ticket issued for violating a section 22 order relating to COVID-19 made by a local medical officer of health.

Additional Supports Available for Businesses Affected by COVID-19 Public Health Measures

The Ontario government is now making available  $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover.

Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province. The rebates will cover the length of time that a business is required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in an area categorized as Red-Control or Lockdown, or previously categorized as modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application. A detailed list of eligible businesses, as well as instructions for applying, can be found at Ontario.ca/covidsupport.

The federal and provincial governments have been working together to deliver benefits and supports to individuals, families and businesses since the onset of COVID-19. Ontario will also work with the federal government to ensure these supports for businesses in COVID-19 hotspots are available in the most straightforward and seamless way possible by integrating these rebates with the federal Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework Updated to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

No. 20/077 – November 16, 2020

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government has taken action to respond to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and has updated the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. These updates consist of lowered thresholds for each restriction level in the framework. They are meant to try and slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 while keeping schools open, maintaining health system capacity, protect vulnerable populations and hopefully avoid broader lockdowns.

The latest public health modelling shows that if the number of new cases continues to grow at its current rate the province could register up to 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December. Within the next two weeks the province will likely exceed its intensive care threshold of 150 beds, under any potential scenario.

The framework changes will lower the threshold for each of the five levels based on consideration of the following variables: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission. Based on these new thresholds, the following public health unit regions would be moved to the following levels in the framework:

  • Red-Control:
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • York Region Public Health


  • Orange-Restrict:
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health


  • Yellow-Protect:
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

 

Please visit Ontario.ca/COVID19 for the full list of public health region classifications that came into effect as of Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Toronto Public Health moved into the framework on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions will apply to public health regions within the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels in the framework. These measures went into effect on Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

In an attempt to maintain a balance between constraining the virus and preventing undue stress on the provincial economy the COVID-19 Response Framework has been designed to:

  • Be responsive and flexible to latest data;
  • Introduce preventative measures earlier to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools open, supporting mental health, protecting our most vulnerable, and keeping businesses open where possible;
  • Recognize that every community is different and provide the flexibility to allocate resources where they are needed most; and
  • Support the ability for local officials to tailor restrictions in their communities based on regional circumstances. The framework serves as a baseline that municipalities and local medical officers of health can build on by imposing additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region, on top of the public health and workplace safety measures required at their specific level.


Assignments to the current levels will remain in place for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

Today more than ever, it is critical for everyone to follow public health advice and strictly comply to the restrictions applied in their regions, especially when connecting with others. The following recommendations apply to all public health unit regions in the province:

  • Avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
  • Adhere to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings;
  • Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
  • Wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
  • Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild;
  • Cover your cough;
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you've been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app;
  • Individuals and families from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions, except for essential reasons; and
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.

In addition, as the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements have been made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario's one-stop point of access for information on COVID-19. Users are now able to view new, active, resolved, deceased, and total cases, by public health unit, on a map. In addition, the website now provides Ontarians with an effective reproduction number, as well as enhanced long-term care data. The government will continue to update the dashboard with relevant data to ensure as much transparency as possible. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

The inability of the public health system to contain the current surge in new virus infections is of great concern. With projections indicating the strong possibility of 6,500 new daily infections in one month’s time there is very good probability that Ontario will again be subject to some form of lockdown as the last strong measure to curb virus spread.  What that lockdown might look like is uncertain at this time, but it is important for everyone to do their part to be vigilant and mindful of how to avoid contributing to further community spread.

Community spread continues to be difficult to control. Public health officials have indicated that as much as 60% of new infections cannot be accurately traced. To date provincial data shows that approximately just two dozen cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to construction project sites since the beginning of the pandemic. While this is encouraging news that the efforts made by employers and staff to take appropriate steps to prevent spread in the workplace is working, it is time spent away from work that appears to be presenting the greatest degree of risk for people.

Please be mindful of your actions and surroundings and stay safe.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases 2020 budget, primarily focusing on COVID-19 pandemic

No. 20/076 – November 6, 2020 

Issue:

Yesterday, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover — the next phase of the province’s action plan to respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Ontario's Action Plan sets out a total of $45 billion in support over a period of three years to make available the necessary health resources to continue delivering critical programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, and lay the groundwork for a robust long-term economic recovery for the province.

The 2020 Budget also outlines a medium-term fiscal plan based on the latest economic projections. It presents alternative scenarios demonstrating how the province's fiscal outlook could change depending on the pace of the economic recovery. The government is also projecting a deficit of $38.5 billion for 2020-21, which is unchanged from the deficit forecast at the time of the 2020-21 First Quarter Finances and reflects urgent spending necessary for the fight against COVID-19. Acknowledging the continued uncertainty of the global pandemic, the government plans to table a multi-year plan including a path to balance in the 2021 Budget by March 31, 2021.

Budget Analysis:

Budget 2020-2021 key figures:

 

Government Revenues:                $ 151.1 billion

 

Government Expenditures:         $ 187.0 billion

        Program Spending:                  $ 174.6 billion

        Interest Payments on Debt:    $ 12.5 billion

 

Contingency/Reserve:                         $2.5 billion

 

Deficit:                                                     $ 38.5 billion

        Projected Return to Balanced Budget: not forecast

 

Accumulated Net Debt:                 $ 397.97 billion

Ontario’s real GDP is projected to decline by 6.5 per cent in 2020 and rise by 4.9 per cent in 2021. Ontario’s economic growth is expected to continue after 2021, with real GDP projected to rise 3.5 per cent in 2022 before moderating to 2.0 per cent in 2023.

The budget further lays out three different scenarios that could see the province's deficit levels change in the coming years. Under the medium growth scenario, the government predicts the deficit will go down to $33.1 billion in 2021-2022, then to $28.2 billion the following year. A path of slower economic growth would see a deficit of $35.6 billion in 2021-2022 and $33.4 billion the next year, and one with faster growth would see deficits of $27.7 billion and $21.3 billion respectively

The budget also acknowledges Ontario's fiscal situation, projecting that the province's net debt-to-GDP ratio will increase to 49.6 per cent by 2022-23 — 10 points higher than prior to the pandemic — even as it forecasts annual deficits will decrease after reaching $38.5 billion this year.

Infrastructure & Transportation

The budget has identified COVID-19 recovery and relief as its primary priority as the province continues to navigate the pandemic. The budget briefly touched on infrastructure and transportation but noted that a key element of the government’s plan is investing in infrastructure, including strategic investments in transit, highways, schools, hospitals and broadband. Over the next 10 years, the government is planning to invest $142.9 billion, including $13.6 billion in 2020–21. This is a nominal decrease from the 2019 budget that planned an investment of $144.2 billion over a 10-year period. The government has identified these investments as fundamental to the province’s plan to build a foundation for a strong economic recovery.

As expected, the government’s planned expenditures focus heavily on commitments to the health, long-term care, housing and justice sectors. Also included are transit and transportation investments. However, more concerning under the Transportation Sector is the line item for “Other Transportation, Property and Planning. This line item shows a decrease in expenditure of $91 million for 2021-2022 and $69 million for 2022-2023.

Without a specific breakout of this line item there is a lack of clarity in how these monies will be spent. However, recent refusals by the Ministry of Transportation to provide ACEC-Ontario with near term future project lists for engineering assignments would seem to indicate that the government has made the decision to significantly curtail investments in engineering services. ACEC-Ontario will be seeking an explanation and specific details of investments to be made under this line item.

Key highlights in the province’s capital plan include:

  • New funding of over $680 million over the next four years, including an additional $150 million for the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program, bringing Ontario’s investment in broadband to nearly $1 billion over six years beginning in 2019–20. These investments will expand broadband and cellular infrastructure across Ontario.
  • Funding for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), including over $1 billion in federal and provincial funding under the newly established COVID-19 Resilience stream to support health and safety through the accelerated delivery of priority municipal infrastructure projects as well as investments to retrofit schools and long-term care homes.
  • $62.7 billion over 10 years for public transit projects
  • The Highway Program, including expansion and rehabilitation projects across the province. The Province has allocated more than $22 billion in funding over 10 years to expand and repair Ontario’s highways and bridges
  • Major hospital projects currently under construction or in various stages of planning
  • Expanding and renovating schools, and creating more child care spaces across the province,
  • Fast-tracking the development of four new long-term care homes in Mississauga, Ajax and Toronto to create 1,280 long-term care beds by the end of 2021

 

Highlights of Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover:

Protect — $15.2 billion, including $7.5 billion in new funding, for the government's urgent response to COVID-19. Highlights of the new funding include:

  • Increasing average daily direct care from a nurse or personal support worker (PSW) per long-term care resident to four hours a day over a four-year period, making Ontario the leader among Canadian provinces in protecting our seniors.
  • Making available $4 billion in 2021-22 and a further $2 billion in 2022-23 in dedicated support to protect people's health and to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Opening the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital site with a new emergency room, diagnostic imaging and operating rooms. This is the first newly built hospital to open in Ontario in 30 years that adds net new capacity to the system.

Support — $13.5 billion, including $2.4 billion in additional supports for people and jobs. Highlights of the new funding include:

  • Providing $380 million to parents through another round of payments, following the $378 million of funding in March of $200 per child up to 12 years old and $250 per child and youth with special needs up to 21 years old, through the Support for Learners initiative. This will assist with added costs of COVID-19, such as technology for online learning.
  • Proposing the new Seniors' Home Safety Tax Credit for the 2021 taxation year — a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000 — to help seniors stay in their homes longer by making their homes safer and more accessible. Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax for 2021. Family members who live with them and support them would also be eligible.
  • Investing an additional $60 million over three years starting in 2020-21 in the Black Youth Action Plan, doubling its base funding to extend the current program and create a new economic empowerment stream that will support Black youth in achieving social and economic success.
  • Investing $100 million over two years for the Community Building Fund to support community tourism, cultural and sport organizations which are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic.
  • Providing one-time emergency funding of $25 million for Ontario's arts institutions to help cover operating losses incurred as a result of COVID-19.
  • Providing an additional $1.8 billion in the Support for People and Jobs Fund over the next two years, 2021-22 and 2022-23, to remain responsive to emerging needs and continue providing supports for the people of Ontario.

Recover — $4.8 billion in new supports to build the foundation for a strong recovery through economic growth. Highlights include:

  • Making additional investments of over $680 million over the next four years in broadband infrastructure which, combined with its prior commitments, increases Ontario's investment to nearly $1 billion to ensure communities across the province are connected.
  • Bringing more jobs to Ontario with a comprehensive plan to address the high costs of electricity, saving medium-size and larger industrial and commercial employers about 14 and 16 per cent respectively, on average, on their electricity bills (at an additional expense of $1.3 billion over three years).
  • Reducing property taxes on job creators by lowering high Business Education Tax (BET) rates for over 200,000 employers, or 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, to a rate of 0.88 per cent. This is creating $450 million in immediate annual savings and representing a reduction of 30 per cent for many businesses currently subject to the highest BET rate in the province.
  • Responding to requests from local governments by proposing to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property tax for small businesses and a provincial commitment to consider matching these reductions. This would provide small businesses as much as $385 million in total municipal and provincial property tax relief by 2022-23, depending on municipal adoption.
  • Ending a tax on jobs for an additional 30,000 employers by proposing to make permanent the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption increase from $490,000 to $1 million. With this additional relief about 90 per cent of employers would pay no EHT, saving them $360 million in 2021-22 that could be reinvested in jobs and growth.
  • Committing to provide Ontario residents with support of up to 20 per cent for eligible Ontario tourism expenses to encourage them to safely discover Ontario in 2021, the year of the Ontario staycation.
  • Connecting workers in the tourism and hospitality sector and others most affected by the pandemic to training and jobs with an investment of $180.5 million over 3 years, including a skilled trades strategy, an additional $100 million of dedicated investments through Employment Ontario for skills training, a redesigned Second Career program, and $59.5 million to acquire in-demand skills.
  • Providing $500 million over four years to make government services more reliable, convenient and accessible through the Ontario Onwards Acceleration Fund.
  • Rounding out the $45 billion commitment is $11.3 billion in cash flow supports such as short-term deferral of taxes.


Context:

The Ontario fall budget underscores the fiscal and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ford administration campaigned for election on a platform of balancing the province’s budget by 2023-2024, just in time for the next election; clearly this is now not possible.

The immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have shrunk the overall provincial economy, eliminated economic growth and resulted in soaring additional costs.

The $38.5 billion deficit highlights an increase of provincial expenditures by $19.8 billion. An increase in anticipated federal transfers of $33.4 billion from an originally forecast $26.6 billion will provide roughly an additional $6.8 billion. This will help contain the net deficit impact to an increase of $18 billion. These figures clearly demonstrate the significant costs involved with combatting the pandemic. Equally important is that the deficit will be stubborn to bring under control as evidence continues to build illustrating that its size will be directly proportional to the pandemic’s severity. It is important to note that while near term fiscal impacts are coming more clearly into focus, the medium term forecast continues to be characterized by a high degree of risk and uncertainty. These conditions can be expected to continue until a viable vaccine is developed, produced and introduced into the population. Until such time supporting Ontario’s economy will require continued spending at “pandemic levels”.

Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity is available at Ontario.ca/coronavirus. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will help businesses access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases new COVID-19 Response Framework

No. 20/075 – November 3, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. It outlines how the province will ensure that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally.

It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.

Public Health Unit Region Classifications:

Each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below. These will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the different classifications of the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.

Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.

As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.

Lockdown:

No public health unit regions

Red-Control:

No public health unit regions

Orange-Restrict:

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
  • York Region Public Health.

 
Yellow-Protect:

  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Durham Region Health Department; and
  • Halton Region Public Health.

Green-Prevent:

  • Algoma Public Health;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Northwestern Health Unit;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Porcupine Health Unit;
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit;
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Business Support:

The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. While certain restrictions have been applied to businesses outside of the engineering sector, member firms should be aware of government supports and how they are intended to work should they need to be accessed in the future.

Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas subject to the targeted modified Stage 2 public health restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. The property tax rebates will be net of any federal support in respect of property taxes provided through the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), so that the rebate will cover costs beyond those covered by CERS.

Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application.

Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity is now available at Ontario.ca/coronavirus. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will help businesses access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario launching COVID-19 resilience infrastructure stream through joint provincial-federal funding

No. 20/074 – October 28, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is providing up to $1.05 billion in combined federal-provincial funding through the new COVID-19 Resilience infrastructure stream to build or renovate health and safety related projects in long-term care, education and municipalities. The funding is part of the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Eligible projects under the COVID-19 Resilience stream will fall under four main categories:

  • Community, recreation, health and education renovations (e.g. retrofits, repairs or upgrades to long-term care homes, publicly funded schools and co-located childcare centre facilities, recreation centres or shelters);
  • COVID-19 response infrastructure (e.g. heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, new builds or renovations to enable physical distancing);
  • Active transportation (e.g. parks, trails); and
  • Disaster mitigation, adaptation, or remediation (e.g. flood mitigation).

The COVID-19 Resilience stream will be 80% cost-shared by the federal government and 20% cost-shared by the province that is expected to deliver:

  • Up to $700 million for education-related projects to be nominated and administered by the Ministry of Education;
  • An allocation-based program that will deliver $250 million to municipalities to address critical local infrastructure needs, including $6.5 million that will be directed toward Indigenous and on-reserve education, through the Ministry of Infrastructure in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Indigenous Affairs; and
  • Up to $100 million for long-term care projects to be identified and administered by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Eligible projects must begin by September 30, 2021 and be completed by December 31, 2021. Municipalities will be able to begin applications for projects the week of November 16th. Additional details about the COVID-19 Resilience stream and intake opening dates will be available in the near future.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario introduces legislation to accelerate the building of key infrastructure projects

No. 20/073 – October 22, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is introducing a package of legislative and policy measures that would, if passed, accelerate the building of key infrastructure projects to create jobs and lay the foundation for economic recovery. The Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 intends to support and accelerate the construction of connected highways and public transit networks, transit-oriented communities, and affordable housing. Additionally, the proposed legislation, introduced by Minister Mulroney earlier today, seeks to reduce barriers in the planning, design and construction of major infrastructure projects.

If passed, the suite of additional measures are meant to help to further reduce risk and costs, mitigate unnecessary delays and could encourage competitive bidding associated with transit projects. The government would also work to modernize policies and align processes for consistency to improve public services.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is seeking, through proposed legislative changes, to:

  • Amend the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 (BTFA) to enable the extension of measures to other major provincial transit projects, which would be specified in regulation.
  • The BTFA includes measures that streamline project delivery and support the accelerated completion of the four priority transit projects.
  • Amend the Public Service Works on Highways Act to include the court order for utility relocation provision in the BTFA. Inclusion would allow for more measures to enforce provisions related to the relocation of utilities for highway projects.
  • Extend authorities under the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020 (TOC Act) to other provincial transit projects, such as GO Heavy Rail and light rail transit which would be specified in regulation.
  • Amend the TOC Act to extend authority to provide exemptions from the Hearings of Necessity provisions in the Expropriations Act to other provincial transit projects for TOC.
  • Amend the TOC Act to provide authority to enter into new types of commercial arrangements for other provincial transit projects for TOC to the Minister of Transportation and provide the Minister of Transportation with the ability to delegate this authority by regulation to Metrolinx or other government agencies.

 

Additionally, the Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) is funding the expansion of broadband in rural communities across the province and continues to help incentivize increased private sector investment to potentially accelerate broadband expansion.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care (MLTC) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) are proposing to help address zoning and site plan approval concerns to expedite long-term care home development by leveraging support from the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and by recognizing that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has existing authority to make Minister's Zoning Orders under the Planning Act.

The Ministry of Transportation intends to post a link to the bill on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for a 30-day comment period. As this is a short timeframe to provide comments, it is critical that ACEC-Ontario member firms play an active role in this consultation and provide timely feedback to the government. Once the bill has been uploaded to the ERO ACEC-Ontario will provide details for commentary and feedback.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases government transformation Action Plan

No. 20/072 – October 20, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has released Ontario Onwards: Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government  to make government services more convenient and accessible. The plan includes more than 30 projects that are intended to  improve the way people and businesses interact with the government.

The plan is a roadmap to make public sector services more customer-focused and digital and data-driven, while increasing the speed of government operations and decision-making. Through it the government is focusing on:

  • Making government services more digitally accessible, such as providing new and improved digital health solutions to frontline care personnel
  • Reducing red tape and simplifying policies while protecting public health and safety, such as reducing barriers to development and construction approvals
  • Improving government purchasing by leveraging the combined bulk-buying power of the province, while taking advantage of local Ontario businesses, to transform how the government purchases goods and services
  • Creating more responsible and flexible public services, such as re-designing core internal processes or permit applications


One of the projects identified in the Action Plan is developing a digital identity, based on digital wallet technology. Starting in January 2021, the government will consult with industry on how the province could introduce a secure digital identity for Ontarians by the end of 2021, allowing citizens to safely verify their identity, online or in person.

More details about each of the projects are included in the Action Plan and will be announced in the coming weeks and months. The plan will be informed by best practices of businesses, leading governments, think tanks, thought leaders, the Ontario Public Service (OPS), and MPPs. It is important  that ACEC-Ontario member firms consider how they can participate in the related consultations once they begin.

The digital transformation and the development of a digital identity that the government is seeking to establish before 2022 is an ambitious goal. While ambitious goals drive change and innovation, it will be important for ACEC-Ontario to be a clear voice in this initiative. We are encouraging member firms to play an active role in the development of an industry position considering  not only the  technical aspects of the government plan, but also the feasibility of realizing its stated  goals by the end of 2021. Additionally, this will be  an opportunity for member firms to comment on future processes that will have an impact on how Consultants interact with the government. Member firms are encouraged to contact Catherine Morrison ([email protected]) to arrange for your participation in future consultations on this matter.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Invitation to MECP's Linear Infrastructure ECA Municipal Panel (Session 2)

No. 20/071 – October 19, 2020

Issue:

In relation to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Park’s proposed Consolidated Linear Infrastructure ECA Framework, the Ministry is offering a second Linear Infrastructure ECA Municipal Panel on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 at 1 PM. 

Presentation materials for this session will be identical to the first LI ECA Municipal Panel hosted on October 8th, 2020.

During this webinar, the ministry will be hosting eight panellists from the Region of Peel, City of Barrie, Halton Region, WEAO, and the City of Greater Sudbury with early involvement in piloting systemwide Environmental Compliance Approvals. The panellists will be sharing their experience on the benefits, challenges, and requirements associated with obtaining a systemwide ECA.  

There will also be an opportunity for participants to ask the Ministry and panellists questions ahead of the proposed transition to the Linear Infrastructure ECA Framework.

If you are interested in registering for the panel please use the following link: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/125540504027

*Registration is capped at 230 participants and the demand for this event is expected to be high so please register as soon as possible.

Panellists:

  • Region of Peel – Justyna Burkiewicz, October Bell, and Samantha Paquette
  • City of Barrie – Craig Morton
  • WEAO/Town of Georgina – Edgar Tovilla
  • Halton Region – Sean Conacher
  • City of Greater Sudbury – Akli Ben-Anteur and Paul Javor

 

Please email [email protected] for a copy of the agenda. For any questions related to the LI ECA Municipal Panel please contact Raisa Hoq ([email protected]).

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario moving Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region back into modified Stage 2 phase in response to increase in COVID-19 cases

No. 20/070 – October 9, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these targeted measures are being implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. Measures under a modified Stage 2 include:

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • Closing of:
    • Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
    • Indoor cinemas;
    • Performing arts centres and venues;
    • Spectator areas in racing venues;
    • Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
    • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming)

  • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
  • Reducing the capacity limits for:
    • Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
    • Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
    • In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
    • Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and
  • Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).

Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.

Wedding receptions scheduled for this weekend may proceed under existing public health rules. Effective Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., updated public health measures will apply to wedding receptions, including new gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors at event spaces.

In addition to the measures being implemented in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is also urging all Ontarians to:

  • Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
  • Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.


Additionally, Ontario has planned to make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills. This support will be provided by the province and will be made available in any region where these measures are necessary. More details will be released in the coming days.

The evolution of the pandemic second wave is creating a dynamic public health and economic environment. While additional public health measures are being applied to dining, bars and entertain segments that have been shown to be contributing to increased community spread of infections, there are no indications that similar actions are currently being contemplated for the professional services or construction sectors. Having taken early and comprehensive steps to develop robust occupational health and safety and public health processes and protocols during the first wave lockdown, our sector has been able to better manage and mitigate the spread of the virus. This being said, renewed vigilance and commitment to health and safety measures is critical to helping limit the current increase of new infections.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation across the province to advise if and when public health measures or restrictions should be adjusted or tightened. Additionally, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario tightening public health measures after rise in COVID-19 cases

No. 20/069 – October 2, 2020

Issue:

 In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and public health experts, the Ontario government is tightening public health measures. Additionally, in response to the second wave of COVID-19 and in preparation for the winter, the government is seeking to reduce testing turnaround times and prioritize testing of those who are vulnerable.

The announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Dirk Huyer, Coordinator of the Provincial Outbreak Response, and Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health.

The additional steps the government is taking to respond to the second wave of COVID-19 include:

  • Transitioning to appointment-based testing at Ontario assessment centres beginning Tuesday, October 6, 2020, providing certainty to patients as to when they can receive a test during the cold winter months and allowing assessment centres to conduct enhanced screening to ensure adherence to the guidelines released on September 24, 2020;
  • Beginning on Sunday, October 4, 2020, assessment centres will discontinue walk-in testing services, so the province's lab network can make significant progress in processing tests and to allow assessment centres the necessary time to reset, deep clean and ensure preparedness for the new appointment-based model;
  • Continuing mobile testing and pop-up testing centres to reach vulnerable populations and provide targeted testing for long-term care, congregate care, and other vulnerable populations;
  • Expanding the number of pharmacies where people with no symptoms within provincial testing guidance can get tested; and
  • Implementing updated testing guidance for children to help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.


Ontario is also taking longer-term actions to increase the province's test processing capacity so people can get their results faster, including:

  • Increasing testing and processing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by mid-October and 68,000 tests per day by mid-November; and
  • Introducing new testing methods once they are approved by Health Canada, including point of care testing and antigen testing.

As the number of new cases continues to rise, the province is implementing new restrictions were adopted through the amended order O. Reg 364/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario [A Flexible Response to COVID-19] Act, 2020). They include mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.

Targeted measures will also be implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. These include:

  • Setting an indoor capacity limit to restrict occupancy at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) to the number of patrons who can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other patron, to a maximum of 100 patrons, permitting no more than six patrons per table, requiring operators to ensure patrons lining up or congregating outside of their establishment maintain physical distancing, and mandating that the name and contact information for each patron be collected;
  • Restricting group exercise classes at gyms and other fitness settings to 10 individuals, as well as restricting the total number of people allowed at these facilities to a maximum of 50; and
  • Setting a limit on the number of people allowed at meeting and event facilities, including banquet halls, to six people per table and 50 people per facility.

This amended order will come into effect on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

In addition, the government is:

  • Extending the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days, unless already permitted to open under O. Reg 364/20;
  • Pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household; and
  • Finalizing additional guidance for seniors (70 and over) on how to minimize their risk of acquiring COVID-19, including for upcoming annual gatherings such as Thanksgiving.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation across the province to advise if and when public health measures or restrictions should be adjusted or tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as practising physical distancing with those outside your household; wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Federal government announces Canada Infrastructure Bank’s plan to invest $10 billion in priority areas for economic recovery

No. 20/068 – October 2, 2020

Issue:

The federal government has provided an outline for $10 billion in targeted investments in infrastructure initiatives such as broadband, clean energy and studies and technical reports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna along with Michael Sabia announced details of the three-year Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) plan during a news conference yesterday. The government says it's intended to create 60,000 jobs.

While the outline did not include specific projects or any new money, it does highlight priority areas that the bank is planning to invest in. This proposed investment is also intended to help the government meet its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The CIB investment will be allocated based on the by the following priority areas:

  • $2.5 billion for clean power to support renewable generation and storage and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories and regions, including northern and Indigenous communities. 
  • $2 billion to help connect about 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in under-served communities. 
  • $2 billion for large-scale energy efficient building retrofits.
  • $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects to boost production, strengthen Canada's food security and expand export opportunities.
  • $1.5 billion to speed up the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure. 
  • $500 million for project development and early construction works

The general investment outline by the federal government speaks to what types of priorities and project areas that the funds will be allocated for, but the delivery of these funds and how they will be allocated across the provinces remains to be seen. While the CIB has been criticized for the relatively few investments if has made, the federal government is aware of the significance of investing in state-of-good-repair and infrastructure projects for provincial and federal economic recovery. 

A report conducted by the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis (CANCEA), commissioned by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) demonstrates the risk associated with the federal government delaying or rolling back infrastructure investment. For example, if $5.2 billion less is invested over the next five years, then Ontario will be at risk of having an average of 89,700 fewer jobs over the next 30 years and a total of $23 billion in government revenue will be at risk over the next decade. The report concludes that holding back on infrastructure investments in Ontario can exacerbate the effects of the pandemic and hamper recovery. Based on the analysis, CANCEA further concludes that infrastructure investment dollar counts and that the economic benefits associated with infrastructure investments are best appreciated in the long term.

As the federal government and the CIB release additional details on the allocation of infrastructure dollars, the line of sight for future projects will become clearer. ACEC-Ontario is having discussions with the province on its priorities for these projects when the funds have been allocated and will keep member firms apprised on the direction and timing of this investment.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario introduced new public health measures to respond to the province’s rise in COVID-19 cases

No. 20/067 – September 25, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health experts, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, to tighten public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19.

Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases. Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group. To ensure the continued health and safety of Ontarians, reduce the risk of transmission, and limit future outbreaks of COVID-19, the amended order will apply province-wide effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday September 26 and will:

  • Apply additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. (including employees), and requiring establishments to close by 12:00 a.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m. except for takeout or delivery;
  • Close all strip clubs across the province; and
  • Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.

In addition, the province will work with the municipal sector and other partners to encourage increased enforcement of existing businesses, facilities, workplaces, etc. to comply with all public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in the Stage 3 regulation. 

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise if public health measures need to be further tightened.

On September 22, the government also began releasing details on its comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. The plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, has so far committed to:

  • Investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines and ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccines for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
  • Starting on September 25, Ontarians can get tested for COVID-19 at select pharmacies if they are not showing symptoms and are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Beginning next week testing will be expanded to pharmacies in southwestern Ontario including London, Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Windsor.
  • Investing $1.07 billion to enhance and expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management in order to quickly identify and contain new cases. This includes opening more testing locations, expanding specimen collection methods for COVID-19 testing, increasing testing capacity and hiring additional contact tracing staff. Health behaviour surveillance will also be conducted across the province to track adherence to and improve communication of the importance of following public health measures.
  • Investing $30 million to build on the province's efforts to rapidly identify and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks, including deploying hospital infection prevention and control (IPAC) resources to provide ongoing support to long-term care homes, and developing a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the disease and detect cases and outbreaks in a timely manner.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice in order to stop the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. This includes:

  • staying home when ill or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
  • practicing physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle or at gatherings; protecting your circle;
  • wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
  • washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
  • adhering to gathering limits and rules.

The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases P3 Market Update representing investments valued at $60 billion

No. 20/066 – September 24, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is moving forward with 40 major infrastructure projects across the province using the public-private partnership (P3) model. The projects are listed in the most recent P3 Market Update, which was released today by the Hon. Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure.

The P3 Market Update includes a total of 40 P3 projects including: 17 civil (transit, subways, highways, etc.), and 23 social (including 17 health care, five community safety, and one children’s treatment centre). Fourteen of these projects are currently in procurement. Another 26 projects are in the pre-transaction phase. In addition, 12 projects are currently in the planning phase (which are not included in the 40 total).

Additional highlights of the P3 Market Update include:

  • The addition of two new correctional facility projects: Quinte Detention Centre; and Brockville Correctional Complex (currently known as Brockville Jail) and St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre (SLVCTC) expansion (the new Brockville Correctional Complex and the new female SLVCTC expansion will be built on the grounds of the current SLVCTC property);
  • The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital redevelopment, which has advanced from planning to pre-procurement; and
  • The GO Expansion: OnCorr project, which will now be delivered using the Design Build Operate Maintain model.

As announced last week, this will be Ehren Cory's final Market Update as President and CEO of Infrastructure Ontario (IO). Michael Lindsay will begin his responsibilities as the incoming President and CEO of IO as of November 1, 2020.

The market update also includes IO’s commitment to new approaches to contracting/procurement and to manage/mitigate risk. While it is positive that IO has stated their commitment on two issues that are critical to ACEC-Ontario, we will continue to collaborate with agency to ensure that these approaches are sustainable and effective for member firms.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: ACEC - Ontario’s newly refreshed Rapid Response Process

No. 20/065 – September 23, 2020

Announcement:

Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Ontario (ACEC-Ontario) has updated the Rapid Response process. This update is aligned with the proactive advocacy pillar of ACEC-Ontario’s new strategic plan.

ACEC-Ontario’s new Rapid Response service will provide an enhanced voice to member firms as they bring forward concerns with problematic terms and conditions found in design services agreements.

 ACEC-Ontario staff work closely with experienced member volunteers and industry partners through the Business Practices committee to review and assess these terms and conditions to provide constructive industry-based feedback to improve the agreements for both the client and the engineer. The goal of this update is to ultimately provide member firms with the ability to practice proactive business planning based on industry observations while maintaining important client relationships.

Rapid Response has been a service offered by ACEC-Ontario since 2017. Having gained initial success, time and experience have shown that there is value in modifying the process to provide earlier initial communication about difficult terms and conditions through a “Member Alert” method that will be shared with the client. By using the “alert first” method, the Rapid Response process will become more responsive to member needs first, making it a more effective and proactive tool.

While ACEC-Ontario has developed and proposed viable potential solutions to clients through Rapid Response, it has been difficult to secure adoption of those solutions. Client relations are important, but by distributing Member Alerts to ACEC-Ontario’s membership before sending a letter to clients, we are allowing our member firms to be well informed in a timely manner as they make their own business decisions. The “alert first” method will give clients more time to respond to ACEC-Ontario’s assessments, analyses, and recommendations so when they receive the corresponding follow up letter, they are in a better position to respond to ACEC-Ontario in a timely and thoughtful manner.

For more information on the updated process, please click here.

It is our hope and intent that this new process will give member firms more agency to make well informed business decisions while increasing the effectiveness of the Rapid Response program.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario announces $70 million dollar flu immunization campaign as part of the province’s Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 plan

No. 20/064 – September 22, 2020

Issue:

Today, the Ontario government announced the implementation of a $70 million dollar flu immunization campaign. The campaign is part of the province's Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 plan which sets out a series of steps to prevent, identify and respond to any outbreak scenario this fall and to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.

The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:

  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario's history.

Given the size of the Keeping Ontarians Safe plan, the province will release additional details over the coming days.

The annual spread of the flu is expected to put pressure Ontario's response to future waves of COVID-19 so Ontario has implemented several measures to address this challenge including:

  • Ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
  • Prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes;
  • Investing an additional $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program;
  • Improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies; and
  • Launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot.

The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older. When getting the flu shot, Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures, including wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.

ACEC-Ontario will provide additional details on the province’s Keeping Ontarians Safe plan as they become available.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Infrastructure Ontario announces Michael Lindsay as the incoming President and Chief Executive Officer

No. 20/063 – September 18, 2020

Issue:

Today, the Hon. Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure, announced Michael Lindsay as incoming President and Chief Executive Officer for Infrastructure Ontario (IO), effective November 1, 2020.

Lindsay currently serves as President of Project Delivery at IO. His private-sector experience includes Global Director of Infrastructure Planning and Advisory at Hatch, where he helped governments create public-private partnerships (P3s). Lindsay also served as an Associate Principal with McKinsey & Company, where he was a core leader of the Canadian Public Sector Practice. We look forward to working with Mr. Lindsay in his new capacity when he begins his appointment. Efforts are underway to arrange for a meeting with the ACEC|ON Board of Directors at the earliest possible opportunity.

As previously announced, current President and CEO Ehren Cory's appointment had originally been set to expire in February 2020. However, he agreed to extend his appointment to ensure continued leadership during the initial impacts of COVID-19.

ACEC|Ontario would like to thank Ehren Cory for his leadership and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic and over the past eight years. We wish him continued success in his next opportunity.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario lowers limits for unmonitored and private social gatherings in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto Regions

No. 20/062 – September 17, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and local municipal leaders, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. The amendment sets a new limit reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in three regions experiencing higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

The amended order will set a new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored social gathering or organized public event in three specific regions to:

  • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
  • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).

Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. These are not accumulative and gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

The new limits will only apply to persons within the boundaries of the following public health units:

  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Peel Public Health; and
  • Toronto Public Health.

This amended order will come into effect on September 18 at 12:01am.

The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures, for these businesses and facilities continue to be in effect. 

To support better compliance with public health guidelines, both within these three regions and across Ontario, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, create:

  • A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order; 
  • A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings; 
  • Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence; and,
  • Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises. 

Additionally, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) to October 22, 2020. Orders in effect under the ROA will allow the government to maintain the flexibility it needs to address the ongoing and emerging risks as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice. This includes:

  • staying home when ill, or keeping children home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms
  • practicing physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings;
  • protecting your circle;
  • wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
  • washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
  • adhering to gathering limits and rules.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

COMMUNIQUÉ TO MEMBERS: Town of Orangeville Request for Proposal: RFP-10-IS-2020 Design for Reconstruction of Centennial Road (Dawson Road to “C” Line) and Contract Administration Services

No. 20/001 – September 9, 2020

Background

On August 28, 2020 CEO wrote to the Town of Orangeville communicating its concerns with multiple clauses contained in RFP-10-IS-2020 Design for Reconstruction of Centennial Road (Dawson Road to “C” Line) and Contract Administration Services. The Town issued a subsequent addendum to the RFP that addressed CEO’s concerns contained in PART 3 – SCOPE OF WORK pertaining to Insurance Requirements. The amended RFP removes the requirement for the Consultant to carry:

  • Umbrella/Excess Liability Insurance;
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance, including coverage provisions “per Disease”;
  • All-Risk Property Insurance; and,
  • Products Liability Insurance.

CEO is grateful to the Town for making these modifications as these conditions presented a barrier for Consultants’ ability to obtain appropriate and sufficient insurance coverage.  The Town is continuing its review of CEO’s letter, reviewing additional concerns which still require attention and committing to meet with association staff in the near future.

CEO’s Position:

Until the Town and CEO engage in further discussions, the following additional clauses remain to be addressed:  

PART 1 – RFP PROCESS

Schedule 1-B, Financial Proposal Form

There exists a requirement in the schedule for the Consultant to disclose private salary information within pricing formulas and potentially audit processes for payroll burden. CEO contends that requiring Consultants to provide the stipulated information violates Canadian and Ontario Privacy laws and the Consultant’s right to privacy. CEO is asking the Town to replace this requirement with the category rate method for these calculations.  Consultants are also asked to warrant quoted hourly rates as the lowest the firm charges to all other Clients. CEO is arguing the impracticality of this requirement and is asking the Town to remove it from the RFP.

PART 2 – DRAFT CONTRACT

10. Warranty

CEO points out that while the clause in question does speak to performance “…quality at least equal to that generally accepted in the industry or profession for similar work…” an assignment for professional services, such as design and contract administration as detailed in this RFP, are not adequately addressed by the current clause. Rather, as written the proposed clause more readily applies to physical goods and materials as it refers to elements of condition and performance stating Goods “… will be new and of current production … will be merchantable, of satisfactory quality, free from defects in design, material and workmanship; and where applicable, will conform to and perform in accordance with specifications, drawings and samples accepted…”.  

Our member firms are required to render their services to a standard that is both informed and motivated by the Professional Engineers Act (PEA). As such, Consultants render their services with the degree of skill and care that would be used by other competent practitioners of the same discipline under similar circumstances in a similar geographic location. CEO proposes that the Town retitle this clause as “Standard of Care” and use the following language:  

In providing services under this Agreement, the Consultant shall perform in a manner consistent with that degree of care and skill ordinarily exercised by members of the same profession currently practicing under similar circumstances at the same time and in the same or similar locality.

13. Termination

Most professional services agreements have Dispute Resolution clauses that include options for negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication, not simply Termination. Although Section 14 mentions submitting disputes to a court, interim steps such as those mentioned here would be more appropriate. Furthermore, the RFP makes no mention of document ownership, or liabilities related to any subsequent use by the Town, of the unfinished work. The absence of any provisions to address these elements creates potential problems for both the Consultant and the Town on issues of intellectual property and confidentiality to name but a few. CEO is recommending the Town work in collaboration to develop a more appropriate clause.

15. Liability and Insurance

This proposed clause presents a number of serious challenges for our member firms.  On the whole it constitutes a non-reciprocal, broad form of indemnification that would be very difficult, if not impossible to appropriately and adequately insure by the Consultant.

As written, the Town’s Liability and Insurance clause is not reasonable because it is not predicated on Consultant negligence.  Consequently, there is no insurance available to our member firms to entirely cover the stated liability.

A broad-form indemnification clause, such as the one used by the Town, fails to recognize the realities of professional practice and the legal standard to which design professionals are held.  Imposing risks on a party that does not have insurance to address those risks does not serve the Town’s interests, and may leave the Town exposed to unexpected and unnecessary consequences in the event of problems with the project. CEO recommends that the Town include appropriate negligence-based indemnification language so both Consultants and the Town are appropriately protected under this contract.

Also, the requirement for a Consultant to “defend” the Town upon request at its own cost goes beyond the obligations of indemnification and is not reasonable, especially when appropriate negligence-based indemnity has not been established in the agreement. Consultants are unable to obtain insurance that would include defending their Clients and as such CEO is asking that this condition be removed from the clause.

Conclusion:

Member firms who have responded to this RFP should be aware that while the Town of Orangeville has made some welcome amendments to the insurance requirements for this assignment, there are still a number of areas of concern in the RFP.

CEO encourages member firms to refer to the commentary above when bidding on current and future projects with the Town and continues to recommend a thorough review of all RFP and contract documents.

Should you have any questions about this bulletin, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario pauses reopening plan after increase in COVID-19 cases

No. 20/061 – September 9, 2020

Issue:

Ontario has reported a combined total of 524 new COVID-19 cases over last three days. The Ministry of Health says that there were 190 new cases reported on the holiday Monday, 185 new cases reported Tuesday and 149 new cases reported this morning which represent the highest daily counts of COVID-19 cases since July 24.

Currently, the province is in the third stage of its reopening plan which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor ones to 100. The province has decided to “pause” any further reopening for at least a month, as classes resume and cases rise. The pause in reopening means social bubble and large gathering limits will not be further expanded at this time.

During a briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that the recent rise in cases is “at least partly attributable” to a number of major outbreaks, including a cluster at a church in Toronto that has resulted in at least 15 cases and another cluster at a wedding in York Region that has resulted in at least 23 cases. Smaller outbreaks have also been reported at workplaces across the provinces as well.

An upward tick and high rolling average of COVID-19 cases all point towards the “second wave” of the pandemic that many pubic officials have deemed as inevitable. While the province pauses its reopening, no plans have been made to step back into Stage 2 or Stage 1 in anticipation of a second wave. Restrictions still may be tightened on a regional basis depending on various factors including the number of cases and trends of infection, especially those with no clear epidemiological link.

The total number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province now stands at 43,685, including 2,813 deaths and 36,332 recoveries. Just over 17,600 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, a decrease from the 23,725 on Tuesday and 21,000 on Monday. Ontario’s net positivity rate has therefore remained at about 0.85 per cent over the past three days.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Extends Orders Under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020

No. 20/060 – August 20, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). The extensions provide the government with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure important measures remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, people with developmental disabilities and those with mental health and addiction issues.

All orders under the ROA have been extended to September 22, 2020, with the following exceptions:

 

On July 21, 2020, the Ontario Legislature passed the ROA to ensure important measures remained in place to address the sustained threat of COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency came to an end. Orders, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) that were in effect when the ROA came into force, were continued under the new act for an initial 30 days. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time.

The government will continue to review all orders and will report on order extensions to the newly created Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.

The following orders under the ROA have been extended until September 22, 2020:

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of Transportation Technical Publications Website Goes Live

No. 20/059 – August 19, 2020

Issue:

The Standards and Specifications Branch of the Contract Management and Innovations Division at the Ministry of Transportation has gone live with its new Technical Publications website. The project to refresh the resource was launched in October, 2019 to replace the existing 10-year old site.

This new website will house documents that are used for the design, construction, construction administration, and maintenance of the ministry’s transportation facilities. The website includes OPSS, CDED, SSPs, DSM, Environmental Standards and Practices, Project Management Best Practices, etc.

In an effort to provide one point of access, the ministry is in the process of moving documents from the RAQS website, to the new Technical Publications website. Documents will be placed under the most appropriate heading. Most construction administration documents will be moved to the “Construction, Qualification, and Materials” page, while Engineering documents will be placed under the applicable title (OPSSs, MTODs, Best Practices, etc.).

All revisions and new documents will be posted on both the RAQs site and the Technical Publications site until the transfer is completed.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Municipalities to see up to $1.6 Billion First Round of Emergency Funding Assistance to support Delivery of Critical Public Services

No. 20/058 – August 13, 2020

Issue:

Wednesday afternoon the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the federal government, announced municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the federal Safe Restart Agreement. The initial allocations will dedicate:

  • $695 million to support COVID-19 related municipal operations,
  • $660 for transit systems, and
  • $212 million for social and housing support.

Overall the agreement is making available more than $19 billion to the provinces and territories. Across all streams of the agreement over $7 billion of the $19 billion in funding and in-kind supports are available to Ontario.

Beginning this fall all of Ontario's 444 municipalities will receive $695 million in Phase 1 funding to help address municipal operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will be allocated on a per household basis and would be shared 50/50 between upper- and lower-tier municipalities. Up to $695 million in additional funding will be available through Phase 2 to eligible municipalities once they have provided the province with details on their estimated COVID-19 related financial demands.

In addition to the support for municipalities, the government is providing more than $660 million in Phase 1 transit funding to the 110 municipalities with transit systems. The funding can be used to provide immediate relief from pressures, such as lower ridership, as well as for new costs due to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning and personal protective equipment for staff. In Phase 2, additional allocations will be provided based on expenses incurred to ensure the funding meets the needs of municipalities. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, up to $2 billion is being provided to support Ontario’s public transit systems.

Ontario is also providing municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners with $212 million in additional funding through its Social Services Relief Fund to help protect vulnerable people from COVID-19. This investment is being directed to help protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions. This brings the government's total Social Services Relief Fund investment provided to service managers and Indigenous program administrators to $510 million.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases Q1 2020 - 2021 Financial Update: Provincial deficit reaches $38.5 billion, no tax hikes, full budget to be tabled no later than November 15

No. 20/057 – August 12, 2020

Issue:

This morning the Ontario government released its 2020-21 First Quarter Finances and an update to Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. Continuing its efforts to support and protect public health and the provincial economy, the government is bolstering its contingency supports in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing investments to the updated Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 are projected to reach $30 billion, up from $17 billion announced on March 25, 2020.

In its continuing efforts to counter the global pandemic, the government is making the following additional investments in the fight against COVID-19:

  • An increase of $4.4 billion for a total of $7.7 billion to provide ongoing support for health care to build hospital capacity, prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, increase testing and purchase personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies.

 

  • An increase of $7.3 billion for a total of $11.0 billion to support people and jobs, supporting investments for temporary pandemic pay for more than 375,000 eligible frontline workers totaling over $1.5 billion, $4 billion in targeted funding to help municipalities and transit agencies to continue operations, and temporary immediate relief for residential, farm, small business, industrial and commercial electricity consumers.

Not surprising, these increased commitments come at a cost.  The government is now projecting a 2020-21 deficit of $38.5 billion, based on current economic information and accounting for additional supports for the pandemic recovery period and the safe restart framework. Also contributing to deficit growth is the projected decline in total provincial revenue to $150.6 billion, $5.7 billion lower than originally forecast, as well as increased program expenses of 13.1 billion. Provincial real GDP is expected to decline by 6.7%. The net debt-to-GDP ratio is now projected to be 47.1% in 2020–21, 5.4% higher than forecast in the March, 2020 update. The current outlook also maintains a $2.5 billion reserve as part of a total $9.6 billion package in COVID-19 prudence measures to protect the fiscal outlook against unforeseen adverse changes in the province’s forecasts for the remainder of the fiscal year. 

Despite Ontario and Canada having tipped into recession, the Premier and the Finance Minister today committed to not raise taxes for the foreseeable future, committing instead to focus the government’s efforts to restart and stabilize the economy. Finance Minister Phillips also pledged that a full provincial budget will be tabled no later than November 15, 2020.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario moving the final region, Windsor-Essex, into Stage 3

No. 20/056 – August 10, 2020

Issue:

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer Health and the local medical officer of health, the province will be moving Windsor-Essex into Stage 3 on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The decision was based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and an increase in testing.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will join the rest of the province's 33 public health regions that have already entered into Stage 3.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation across the province to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, please click here to view the Stage 3 Emergency Orders on the province’s emergency information portal.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practicing physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, and downloading the COVID Alert App. Please click here to read more on the COVID Alert App.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: COVID Alert Available for Download Today

No. 20/055 – July 31, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This app, which is available beginning today, lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus.

Work on COVID Alert was initiated in Ontario by the Ontario Digital Service and volunteers at Shopify, and was the foundation of the work by the Government of Canada. The app was developed in consultation with the Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario to ensure the highest level of privacy for everyone using it.

The COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know without sharing any personal information. Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user. The app also supports the efforts of public health units, allowing the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential outbreaks ― without sharing any personal information.

If an app user receives a message from COVID Alert that they may have been exposed to the virus, they should follow the public health advice given on the app and get tested. To notify other people if an app user has tested positive for COVID-19, they can enter their one-time key from Ontario's test results website (Ontario.ca/covidresults) into the app. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two metres of them for at least 15 minutes within the past 14 days, without sending any information that identifies the user, or the time and place of exposure.

Ontarians should continue to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing with people not in their social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and if anyone thinks they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 3

No. 20/054 – July 29, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is allowing the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and an increase in testing.

Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020.

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2. Ontario will continue to monitor local trends of key public health indicators in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region and move it into Stage 3 when it is safe to do so. In the interim, on-farm testing, the deployment of mobile testing units and the adoption of new public health guidance for positive asymptomatic workers remain in place.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health and workplace safety restrictions necessary to keep people safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

Businesses that are unable to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal for consideration. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarification and provide an initial response within 10 days.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened. It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Safe Restart Agreement between federal government and Ontario delivers up to $4 Billion to support municipalities and transit operators

No. 20/053 – July 28, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion to Ontario's 444 municipalities. This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services, including public transit, over the next six to eight months. The government will be providing details on specific allocations in the coming weeks.

The government worked with municipal partners, fellow Premiers, Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to reach this historic agreement, called the Safe Restart Agreement, which includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities. Ontario will continue to work closely with municipalities to ensure this funding provides support to address budget shortfalls related to COVID-19.

A deal for public transit funding was also secured as part of this federal-provincial agreement. Up to $2 billion will be shared equally between Ontario and the federal government. Transit operators that have seen steep declines in revenues will receive support to address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and to continue their operations in a safe manner.

The Safe Restart Agreement will also help ensure recovery efforts for Ontario through investments in testing, contact tracing and data management; health care capacity and mental health; protecting vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness and seniors in long-term care facilities; securing personal protective equipment (PPE); child care for returning workers; and support for municipalities and public transit systems.

Please click here to read the province’s and federal government’s joint communique on the Safe Restart Agreement.

CEO will provide more specific details on how the government will be allocating this investment to municipalities once they have been released.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks hosting information webinars on Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Approach

No. 20/052 – July 24, 2020

Announcement:

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) will be hosting a series of webinars to provide information on the Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Approach, as well as to obtain feedback from stakeholders on the application process, draft Environmental Compliance Approval templates, and proposed design criteria, including the support municipalities needed to transition to the new approvals approach. 

The MECP will be hosting be three (3) webinar topics, and two (2) sessions will be held on each of the following topics:

1.) Overview of the proposed Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Approach

At this session, MECP staff will provide a high-level overview of the proposed changes to the permissions approach for sanitary sewage collection systems and stormwater management systems. The presentation will highlight the rationale for change and the benefits that can be realized from transitioning to the new permissions approach, including a reduction of burden, time and cost savings and enhanced system management and oversight.

Please note that MECP staff will not be discussing the technical details and aspects of Consolidated Linear Infrastructure during this session. Technical information will be provided at the Technical Session webinars.  

Session 1:  July 30, 2020 10:30 am – 12:00 pm 

Session 2:  August 6, 2020 10:30 am – 12:00 pm 

2.) Technical Session – Sanitary Sewage Collection Systems

At this webinar, MECP staff will provide a detailed overview of the proposed changes to the Environmental Compliance Approval templates for sanitary sewage collection systems. There will also be a presentation on the Design Criteria and how it applies to as it applies to sanitary sewage collection systems. 

Session 1: August 11, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm 

Session 2:  August 18, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm 

3.) Technical Session – Stormwater Management Systems

This webinar session will provide a detailed overview of the proposed changes to the Environmental Compliance Approval templates for stormwater management systems. There will also be a presentation on the Design Criteria and how it applies to stormwater management works. The Credit Valley Conservation Authority will also provide a presentation on the Drainage Act. 

Session 1: August 13, 2020 9:30 am – 12:00 pm 

Session 2: August 20, 2020 9:30 am – 12:00 pm 

Those who are interested in participating in any or all of these sessions can contact Catherine Morrison ([email protected]) for session agendas and registration details.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Bill 195, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act receives contentious reaction (copy)

No. 20/051 – July 23, 2020

Issue:

On Tuesday, Bill 195, the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act was passed in the legislature and received royal assent. The bill gives the government the power to continue a number of the emergency orders it has used since the pandemic began even after the state of emergency ends.

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) has allowed the government to declare the state of emergency and issue orders, but the government has been seeking a law that can is sustainable enough to effectively address long-term pandemic related issues. Bill 195 will lift the current emergency orders out of the EMCPA and continue them under new conditions.

The government will also retain the power to issue emergency orders in three broad categories:

  • closing or regulating “any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution”;
  • making rules to manage workforces (for example, sending hospital teams into long-term-care homes);
  • and prohibiting or regulating public gatherings.

Any amendments to existing emergency orders will have to fall within those three broad categories.

One of the more notable aspects of Bill 195 is the power to repeal the law without another vote by MPPs. This has caused some tension within government, with MPP Belinda Karahalios being removed from the Conservative Party caucus after voting against the bill. Bill 195 has been described by MPP Karahalios as an “unnecessary overreach” for allowing the government extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature. However, it must be noted that under the current law the Conservative Party can leverage their majority to achieve a similar, albeit more laborious, time extension for emergency orders.

Bill 195 has been a cause for concern from a number of stakeholders, most notably from the healthcare sector. At issue is the legislation’s empowerment of the government to issue and repeal states of emergency, emergency orders and their incumbent authority without having to abide by traditional oversight exercised by the Legislative Assembly.  This has sparked concern about the potential for the infringement of people’s rights over the course of the next two years, most notably essential worker’s rights.

To read more on Bill 195 please click here.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. 

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government Passes Sweeping COVID-19 Recovery Legislation: Measures Broadly Impact Professional Services, Construction and Infrastructure Sectors

No. 20/050 – July 22, 2020

Issue:

On July 21, 2020, the Government of Ontario passed into law omnibus legislation to enable its objectives to restart the provincial economy.  Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 amends a number of existing provincial statutes and enacts two new pieces of legislation.  The scope of the legislation is broad and includes a number of measures that will impact Ontario’s broader construction industry, including engineers.

The Act contains a number of tools that are designed to enable the broader construction sector to increase the speed and efficiency with which projects can be completed. Notably, these tools will require the balancing of both public and private interests in the advancement of all types of infrastructure projects. 

The following summaries highlight elements of the Act that will be of particular interest to CEO member firms. It is recommended that readers access the legislation using the active link included above to review and familiarize themselves with the particular portions of the Act that could impact their business operations:

Schedule 1:  Building Code Act

The Act makes changes streamlining the Ontario Building Code development process, aligning it with National Construction Codes, and enabling Ontario to respond faster to construction sector needs. The Building Code Act has been amended to change regulation-making authority from the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The alignment of the Ontario Building Code with National Construction Codes is made possible through an amendment that allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make regulations by adopting by reference, in whole or in part, with such changes as the Minister considers necessary, of documents including the National Building Code of Canada and the National Plumbing Code of Canada, among others.

Schedule 3:  Development Charges Act, 1997

The Act amends the Development Charges Act, 1997. The amendments repeal and replace certain amendments made by the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 that are not yet in force and seek to make changes to other provisions that were enacted in that Act. Elements of those amendments are retained, but the following changes and additions are sought:

The list of services in subsection 2 (4) of the Act for which a development charge can be imposed is expanded from the list that was included in the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019. A new subsection 2 (4.1) sets out the relationship between development charges and the community benefits charges that can be imposed by by-law under the Planning Act.

Section 7 of the Act currently provides for services to be grouped into categories within a development charge by-law. The Schedule repeals and replaces section 7 to provide for services to be included in classes which can be composed of any number or combination of services, including parts or portions of the services listed in subsection 2 (4) of the Act or parts or portions of the capital costs listed in subsection 5 (3) in respect of those services. A class set out in a by-law is deemed to be a single service for the purposes of the Act in relation to reserve funds, the use of money from reserve funds and credits.

Transitional rules that were added as section 9.1 of the Act by the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 with respect to the duration of development charge by-laws are repealed and replaced. Related changes are proposed for transitional rules in section 26.2 of the Act with respect to the determination of the amount of a development charge.

A new section 33.1 provides transitional rules with respect to reserve funds established by upper-tier municipalities for services for which a development charge could no longer be imposed.

Regulation-making powers have also been added with respect to transitional matters.

The purpose of the changes are to allow municipalities to recover 100 per cent of the cost to build critical community services, such as long-term care, child care, public health facilities and affordable housing; they are also meant to enable a separate community benefits charge that would empower municipalities to fund growth-related capital costs of services due to higher density developments.

Schedule 4:  Drainage Act

The province will work with the farm and food sector to streamline administrative processes under the Act to encourage innovation in drainage practices, help to prevent flooding, and reduce costs for farmers, rural landowners, and municipalities.

The amendments relate to the service of documents and to the processes involved in amending engineers’ reports, approving improvement projects, and requesting environmental appraisals.  Member firms are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the amendments contained in the Act and how its amendments of the Drainage Act will impact their practice.

Schedule 6:  Environmental Assessment Act

The Act makes extensive changes to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act.  These changes seek to modernize existing environmental assessment requirements.  The amendments to the Act will be realized in three phases thereby transitioning gradually to a more modern approach. The amendments are complex and make some significant changes to process.

The changes also seek to reduce approval timelines by half from 6 to 3 years for the largest projects and match the level of assessment with the level of environmental impact so critical infrastructure projects could proceed without undue delay.

Also significant is the increased authority provided to local municipalities with changes granting them more say in landfill approvals by requiring new, large landfill applicants to ensure there is local support from host communities, and certain neighbouring adjacent municipalities within 3.5km that meet certain criteria as part of the approvals process.

Note these changes in Bill 197 that impact the environment are also currently posted to the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for public consultation.  CEO has already provided member firms notice of these consultations and has asked those that are interested to private commentary to support CEO’s creation and submission of an industry position on these issues. 

Schedule 17:  Planning Act

Among other amendments Bill 197 replaces sections 37 and 37.1 of the Planning Act. The intent of these changes is to enable municipalities to impose certain community benefits charges against land to pay for the capital costs of facilities and services required due to local development or redevelopment. The legislation also includes provisions to more clearly establish the relationship between community benefits charges and development charges that can be imposed under the Development Charges Act, 1997, and those that can be funded from the special account used for the acquisition of land to be used for community or other public recreational purposes. Furthermore, Bill 197 expands order-making powers for the Minister with respect to projects and lands that are not in the Greenbelt Area—within the meaning of the Greenbelt Act, 2005—including site plan control and inclusionary zoning. Among other things, the changes provide the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the ability to mandate the exterior design of buildings, landscaping and pedestrian and vehicle access, and to require the inclusion of affordable housing units in the development or redevelopment of specified lands, buildings or structures.

Schedule 19:  Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act

Bill 197 also amends the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, doing away with hearings of necessity for expropriations of property for public transportation and highway projects. As an alternative, the legislation enables the appropriate minister to establish a process for receiving comments from property owners about such expropriations. These steps further the objective of removing potential roadblocks to construction, including infrastructure projects.

Schedule 20:  Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020

One of the two new statutes enabled by the Act, the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020, permits the Lieutenant Governor in Council to designate land as “transit-oriented community land” if, in the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, it is or may be required to support a transit-oriented community project. The legislation provides that if land, any part of which is transit-oriented community land, is expropriated in specified circumstances, a related hearings process under the Expropriations Act does not apply. Rather, the legislation provides for the creation of a process for receiving and considering comments from property owners respecting a proposed expropriation of the land in question. The legislation defines a “transit-oriented community project” as “a development project of any nature or kind and for any usage in connection with the construction or operation of a station that is part of a priority transit project, and includes a development project located on transit corridor land within the meaning of Bill 171, Building Transit Faster Act, 2020.” Bill 171 was passed in to law and received Royal Assent July 8, 2020.

The Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020 also includes provisions which amends the Ministry of Infrastructure Act, 2011. The amendments permit the applicable minister, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to establish, acquire, manage, participate in or otherwise deal with corporations, partnerships, joint ventures or other entities for the purpose of investing assets in, supporting or developing transit-oriented community projects related to priority transit projects. These powers extend to borrowing and management of financial risks in connection with these projects, and provide the province with very broad tools to encourage both public and private sector participation in transit-oriented communities and related development projects.

Reducing Delays for Environmental Infrastructure Projects

While not included as part of the legislation, the government’s backgrounder to its original announcement noted that it was engaged in making improvements the Environmental Compliance Approval process for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. The new process would provide a single, consolidated approval process for low-impact municipal sewage collection and stormwater management projects. Simple, routine changes by municipalities would be pre-authorized to begin construction without needing separate approvals for each project. The intent is for the new process to ensure municipalities are able to build critical infrastructure faster, eliminating costly construction delays while maintaining strong environmental protections.

The government’s COVID-19 recovery legislation has been constructed with broad, sweeping authority and enabling tools. These powers are meant to facilitate the construction and infrastructure industries to undertake and complete projects with increased speed and efficiency thereby helping to bolster the provincial economy. While the tools to spur this activity are now in place what is important now is how actors will use them with an eye for balancing of both public and private interests.  This is something that government and stakeholders will have to figure out working together over time.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario to move more regions into Stage 3 on Friday July 24t

No. 20/049 – July 20, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions to enter Stage 3 on Friday July 24th. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators.

The following public health units will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Durham Region Health Department;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Halton Region Health Department;
  • Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Lambton Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health Department; and
  • York Region Public Health Services


These regions will join the 24 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on Friday, July 17, 2020. For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health and workplace safety restrictions necessary to keep people safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

The following regions will remain in Stage 2 until local trends of key public health indicators demonstrate readiness to move into Stage 3:

  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Ontario will continue to assess trends in the public health indicators to determine when these final public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

As the province reopens, the government is strongly recommending everyone to continue following public health advice, including practicing physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario launches online, updated Northern and Southern Highways Programs

No. 20/047 – July 17, 2020

Issue:

Yesterday, the Ontario government launched a new online platform providing details for the Ministry of Transportation’s updated Northern and Southern Highways Programs. The new online tool is a searchable and interactive publication that provides highway construction project information including locations, the status of active assignments and information about scheduled future projects.  Ontario's Southern and Northern Highways Programs are now available in both list format and on a searchable map that will provide people the opportunity to see where projects are being built or planned.

Specific details about funded current and planned construction projects are broken out into expansion and rehabilitation assignments.  All expansion projects with construction funding are identified, while the rehabilitation program is focused on a three-year period (2020-2022). It is expected that the programs will be updated annually following ministry budget approvals, typically during the summer months.  For 2020-21, the province has allocated approximately $2.6 billion for highway and bridge expansion ($764 million) and repair ($1.5 billion, approx.). 

What this means for CEO:

The launch of the new online platform and publishing of the updated highways programs represents a significant investment by the Ministry of Transportation and substantial work by officials.  The new system should be an effective resource for those seeking construction project information.

However, like historic program reports, the new data is still unfortunately focused solely on informing construction projects, equivalent industry insight for engineering and design services is not included in the release. 

For years CEO has made clear the need for line-of-sight project information to support the engineering services sector’s ability to fulfill the objectives of the highways programs and to enable tools such as the new platform to serve as a useful resource.  This commercially sensitive information includes:

  • What procurement model will be applied e.g. standard Design/Bid/Build, DB Major/Minor, CMGC etc.,
  • If a standard DBB delivery model is to be used, has an EA/PD assignment been initiated and if yes, what is the anticipated completion date and when will Detail Design (or better yet, procurement) start,
  • If the delivery model is DB, when will the DB Ready assignment be issued/procured (or completed, if already assigned),
  • Will the engineering services will be secured via a new standalone assignment, or through an existing Retainer assignment etc.

These considerations are necessary to assess what new engineering services are in the pipeline, along with MTO’s annual budget information.   

The failure of the new platform and the updated highways programs to include this information is disappointing. While recognizing the importance of construction-related project details, equivalent data supporting the planning and design necessary to enable that construction is equally as important. CEO will continue to advocate for the inclusion of these details in MTO programs, emphasizing their ability to enable streamlined project delivery and other positive benefits such as more accurate and effective project scheduling, sequencing and adherence to budgets. 

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders until July 29, 2020

No. 20/048 – July 16, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended most emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) until July 29, 2020. The province is still moving forward with its plans to implement the Framework for Reopening the Province with many regions entering Stage 3 on Friday.

On July 7, 2020, the Government of Ontario introduced the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 that would, if passed, ensure that measures remain in place to address COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency has ended. The extension of these emergency orders under the EMCPA would essentially permit orders to continue under the proposed legislation, if passed. The government continues to consult on and review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if they can be safely eased or lifted.

The following orders under s.7.0.2 (4) of the EMCPA are extended until July 29, 2020:


If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Majority of Ontario to enter into Phase 3 of province’s reopening framework on Friday July 17th – most of GTA and select southern Ontario communities to remain in phase 2 for now

No. 20/046 – July 13, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government announced today that the majority of the province will be entering Stage 3 of its reopening framework at midnight Friday July 17th. Communities in 10 public health units will be required to remain at Stage 2 for the time being.  Decisions on which regions will enter from Stage 2 to Stage 3 have been based on 4 weeks of positive trend data. Given the trend performance and length of time that communities have already spent in Stage 2, Toronto and the GTAH could potentially enter into Stage 3 by next Monday.

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events. For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as public health guidance please visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

Those regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

The following public health unit regions will be allowed to move into Stage 3 first, on Friday, July 17, 2020:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

The following public health units are remaining in Stage 2:

  • Durham Region Health Department​
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Peel Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

Businesses and municipalities will be permitted to enter Stage 3 based on their region and, as in the previous stages, may choose to take more time before reopening. Businesses and sectors that are not able to reopen or who are experiencing significant challenges for reopening due to Stage 3 restrictions can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to work with the government to develop a reopening proposal that will enable them to safely resume or increase operations. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications.

At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.

As the province enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place. Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10.

The government has released over 170 safety guidance resources at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety. Guidance will be available for all spaces permitted to open in Stage 3. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review and implement appropriate measures to help protect their communities.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario extends Emergency Orders to July 22, 2020

No. 20/044 – July 9, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 22, 2020.

The extension of the emergency orders will allow for the redeployment of frontline staff in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and other congregate care settings, like women's shelters and residential services. In addition, the extension would allow public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing.

The government intends to extend emergency orders to align with the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, if passed. This proposed legislation is part of the government's plan to reopen Ontario while taking into consideration the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 even after the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. The bill, if passed, would allow Ontario to continue its recovery efforts by easing restrictions where appropriate, while maintaining select tools to address the ongoing threat of this deadly virus and protect Ontarians.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: UPDATE: Bill 171 Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, passed into law by Ontario Legislature

No. 20/043 – July 7, 2020

Issue:

Today, Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, was passed into law. The legislation enables the province to expedite the delivery of four priority transit projects in the GTA, namely, (i) the Ontario Line; (ii) the Scarborough subway extension; (iii) the Yonge North subway extension; and (iv) the Eglinton Crosstown West extension.

The Act will expedite the planning, design and construction process for the four priority subway projects by:

  • Enabling relocation of utilities;
  • Enabling the assembly of land required to construct stations, conduct tunneling and prepare sites;
  • Ensuring timely access to municipal services and rights-of-way;
  • Allowing the province to conduct due diligence work and remove physical barriers with appropriate notification to property owners; and,
  • Ensuring nearby developments or construction projects are coordinated so they do not cause delays.
  • In addition to the passage of Bill 171, the province continues to plan to invest $2.6 billion dollars to expand and repair Ontario’s highways.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to July 10, 2020

No. 20/041 – June 29, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020. This decision was made in consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure the gradual reopening of the province on a regional basis can continue as part of Ontario's Framework for Reopening the Province.

The extension of the emergency orders will allow frontline health care providers and public health units to redeploy staff where they are needed most, while providing the government with the tools it needs to move the province into the next stage of reopening.

On June 24, Ontario announced the extension of the Declaration of Emergency to July 15, allowing the province to continue to make or amend emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The government continues to review all these emergency orders to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as restrictions are eased and more places in the province reopen in a safe and measured way.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario extends the provincial Declaration of Emergency to July 15th, 2020

No. 20/040 – June 24, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 15, 2020. This extension, approved by the Ontario Legislature earlier today, provides Ontario with the additional time, flexibility, and the necessary tools to respond to COVID-19.

The provincial Declaration of Emergency enables the government to make, and as needed amend, emergency orders. Emergency orders in force under the Declaration of Emergency include but are not limited to:

  • Allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff to areas most in need
  • Limiting long-term care and retirement home employees to working at one home
  • Enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support the province's enhanced case management and contact tracing strategy

These measures are in place to provide aid to seniors and other vulnerable populations. The extension of the Declaration of Emergency will also allow the province to make or amend emergency orders as needed as it continues to ease restrictions in support of its phased reopening. 

The government will also continue to monitor public health trends related to COVID-19 and assess on an ongoing basis whether the provincial Declaration of Emergency needs to be extended further. The province will continue to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as more places in the province are allowed to reopen in a safe and measured way.

As of June 24th, 2020, 33 public health unit regions have entered Stage 2 of the Framework for Reopening our Province, allowing more businesses and services. The Windsor-Essex County public health unit region remains in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario moves City of Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 2 of the province’s reopening framework

No. 20/039 – June 22, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer and local medical officers of health, the Ontario government is moving the City of Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 2. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and an increase in testing.

Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will enter Stage 2 on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. They will join the 31 other public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12 and 19, 2020.

Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis. To ensure the region is able to move forward as soon as it is safe to do so, the province is building on the work completed by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to date and collaborating with federal and local authorities to support the implementation of a targeted and collaborative response that includes:

  • Proactive targeted testing for agri-food workers
  • Conducting Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on-farm inspections and investigations;
  • Starting new joint inspections of farms with federal authorities to review current working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers;
  • Providing $15 million through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection program, which provides cost-share funding to improve employee and workplace health and safety on farms and in processing facilities;
  • Translating COVID-19 health and safety guidance documents into Spanish and posting them on Ontario.ca/covidsafety; and
  • Providing specific funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has also strongly recommended that local medical officers of health use their authority under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to issue class orders to ensure that employers of temporary workers take actions to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on farms. These actions will ensure:

  • All foreign workers self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their arrival;
  • All workers coming from any area where there is community transmission have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to beginning work;
  • Daily active screening;
  • Accurate and updated contact information of permanent, temporary and contract employees available to the public health unit within 24 hours and ensuring employees are assigned to the same group to support effective case management and contact tracing;
  • Physical distancing maintained between workers as best as possible and personal protective equipment to be provided based on risk assessment; and
  • All legislative requirements to protect worker health and safety are followed.


The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation in all regions of the province to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

Although restrictions are being gradually relaxed in Stage 2, the government is strongly recommending that everyone in Ontario follow public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario enhancing COVID-19 case and contact management protocols

No. 20/038 – June 19, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has announced that it is enhancing case and contact management to test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for potential future waves. These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management.

The government's strategy focuses on standardizing case and contact management by:

  • Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;
  • Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;
  • Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and
  • Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.


Ontario is also providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached public health units will do the following:

  • Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;
  • Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;
  • Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and
  • Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.


To augment the current provincial capacity of approximately 2,000 case managers and contact tracers, Ontario is providing additional contact tracing staff. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.

The province is also partnering with the federal government to launch COVID Alert, a new privacy-first exposure notification app. Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario's public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested.

Additionally, Ontario is implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff.

The government continues to emphasis that everyone should follow public health guidelines to stay safe, including physical distancing with people not in your social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, getting tested.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario releases Spring 2020 P3 Market Update – recommits to infrastructure investment plan

No. 20/037 – June 19, 2020

Issue

Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott along with Infrastructure Ontario President and Chief Executive Officer, Ehren Cory, this afternoon released the Spring 2020 Ontario P3 Market Update.

Building on the government’s September 2019 launch of a new procurement and planning pipeline the Spring 2020 P3 Market Update consists of 37 P3 projects valued at more than $60 billion, including:

  • 17 civil (such as transit, subways, highways);
  • 16 health care;
  • three community safety; and,
  • one children’s treatment centre.


Thirteen of these projects are currently in procurement with an additional 24 projects in the pre-transaction phase.  Thirteen more projects are early in the planning process and have yet to be confirmed that they will enter the P3 pipeline.

The most notable changes with this update are the additional details provided for transit and subway work, including the three RFPs for the Ontario Line, the addition of two significant highway projects and the reaffirmation of the commitment to health care investment.

Minister Scott and Ehren Cory both noted that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to influence the provincial infrastructure market’s ability to undertake, execute and complete projects for the foreseeable future.  This will in turn affect government procurement activities, including the scheduling and sequencing of projects.  Recognizing these challenges, they noted that the fall market update will have additional project details not included in today’s document.  They also noted that it may be necessary to modify the current published timing of projects on the pipeline, but that the government’s commitments to infrastructure investment were firm as the pipeline is viewed as an important element to Ontario’s recovery plan.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Releases Guide on How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

No. 20/036 – June 18, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has published a new general workplace guide, which will assist employers develop a safety plan to help protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers guidance on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province.

The new guide will help each employer create a safety plan that is right for their own unique workplace. It includes information on the use of face coverings, as well as applying controls in the workplace. It also includes information on what personal protective equipment may be needed for workers. Please click here to read the guide.

The workplace guide is accompanied by a template that employers can fill in to develop their own unique COVID-19 safety plan. The materials will help employers with the following:

  • Identify the risks for transmitting the virus through person-to-person contact and actions such as touching faces with hands that have been contaminated by contact with surfaces and objects;

  • Determine what controls are needed to help mitigate risk, such as engineering controls like the installation of plexiglass to separate workers from customers, administrative controls limiting the number of workers in a space at one time, and personal protective equipment including face and eye protection;

  • Create a workplace safety plan based on the identified risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer's workplace;

  • Implement the plan in the workplace, and review and update it as the situation evolves; and

  • Communicate the actions being taken to workers and other people entering the workplace.


The new guide is reinforced by 121 workplace resources available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety to help protect workers from the virus.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders until June 30, 2020

No. 20/035 – June 18, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 30, 2020. While current emergency orders will remain in place, the government will review each order to determine if it can be safely adjusted or lifted as part of the province’s framework to reopen the province.

Over the past week, the government announced 31 public health unit regions across the province may proceed to Stage 2 of its Framework for Reopening the Province to will allow additional businesses and services to reopen.

Additionally, larger social gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed in all parts of the province, and people are encouraged to create or join a “social circle”. It is important to note the difference between social circles and social gatherings. Social gatherings are people from outside your household, limited to 10 people. Social circles are voluntary and include members of your household and include of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing.

Please see the following actions permissible in social circles:

  • do not have to physically distance
  • can hug and touch each other
  • should continue to follow public health advice, including frequently washing their hands and taking everyday actions to help stop the spread of COVID-19


To learn how to create a social circle, please see the step-by-step guide.

The government continues to emphasize that people should continue to follow public health guidelines, including practicing physical distancing, wearing a face covering where physical distancing is a challenge and washing their hands thoroughly and frequently. Anyone who is worried they may have COVID-19, or who may have been exposed to the virus, is encouraged to go for testing.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks delays new Excess Soil Regulation and amends the Records of Site Condition Regulation

No. 20/034 – June 16, 2020

Excess Soil Regulation Delay:

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has announced that it will be delaying the implementation of the excess soil regulation due to COVID-19. Provisions that would have come into effect on July 1, 2020 are being temporarily delayed until January 1, 2021. The ministry’s current waste regulatory framework will continue to apply during this time and the ministry will take action with any non-compliance or to address any concerns as it applies to the management and disposal of excess soil.

The ministry will also continue to work with municipalities and other stakeholders to:

  • understand and implement the regulatory changes
  • encourage early adoption of changes as appropriate

Background:

In December 2019, the Lieutenant General in Council made the new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation, O. Reg. 406/19 (excess soil regulation) under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). The excess soil regulation clarifies rules related to the reuse and management of excess soil, including:

  • Standards for appropriate reuse of excess soil
  • When excess soil is designated as a waste
  • When waste-related approvals are required for soil management under Part V of the EPA


Other implementation dates in the excess soil regulation have not changed, including implementation of provisions dealing with the excess soil management planning requirements and the Registry which remain coming into effect on January 1, 2022, as well as other provisions on January 1, 2025. Similarly, the excess soil regulation will continue to grandfather contracts related to excess soil management entered into before January 1, 2021.

Amendment to the Records of Site Condition Regulation

The Ministry has also amended O. Reg. 153/04 (Records of Site Condition Regulation), to exempt temporary health facilities or residential facilities that are built on land previously used for community or commercial purposes in response to emergencies declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

As temporary health or residential facilities are considered a sensitive use under the Environmental Protection Act, a Records of Site Condition (RSC) is required to be filed in the Environmental Site Registry before the facility can be established on property or in a building that is used for a less sensitive use, such as an industrial, commercial or community use.

Filing an RSC requires:

  • Retaining a qualified person
  • Conducting one or more environmental site assessments
  • Possible soil remediation


These requirements take a significant amount of time and would create delays where temporary facilities are required to urgently respond to a declared emergency.

This exemption would apply to:

  • A temporary facility established in response to the current emergency, such as COVID-19 testing tents or isolated medical structures
  • The establishment of a temporary facility responding to any future declared emergencies, including any future phases of the pandemic 

All other requirements that are part of the ministry’s legislative framework, including the regulation of waste management and discharges to the natural environment, would continue to apply to the operation of these temporary facilities, and the ministry will take action in response to environmental concerns, if they emerge.

Please click here to read further details on this bulletin.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: More regions of Ontario allowed to enter Stage 2 of the province’s reopening framework

No. 20/033 – June 16, 2020

Issue:

The government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health, is allowing more regions of the province to enter Stage 2. These regions are able to reopen due to positive trends of key public health indicators at the local level, including lower transmission of COVID-19, sufficient hospital health system capacity, local public health capacity to assist with rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing provincially.

Please see the latest public health unit regions that will be moving into Stage 2 on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Durham Region Health Department;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Halton Region Health Department;
  • Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Lambton Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health Department; and
  • York Region Public Health Services


These regions are in addition to the 24 public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12, 2020. Please click here to read CEO’s bulletin on Stage 2.

The following regions will remain in Stage 1 under ongoing assessment until trends of key public health indicators demonstrate readiness to move into Stage 2:

  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

All Ontarians must continue to follow public health advice, including practicing physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID‑19, the province is urging immediate testing.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Most of Ontario reopening under regional plan for Stage 2 – GTHA and southern border regions to remain at Stage 1

No. 20/032 – June 8, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government has announced that it is moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of the province’s reopening framework. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local health officials, the government is easing restrictions in communities where it is safe to do so, based on trends of key public health indicators such as lower rates of transmission, increased capacity in hospitals, and progress made in testing. Please click here for more details on Stage 2.

Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five (5) to ten (10) people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity.

Public health unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m. include:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

 

Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures (please click here to view Ontario’s health and safety guidelines) in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

 

The province will soon release more details on:

  • Child care;
  • Summer camps;
  • Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
  • Training centres; and
  • Public transit.

 

At the beginning of each following week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of the GTHA and southern border regions that will remain in Stage 1 for the present time, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of that week.

On June 6th, the province announced that emergency orders were extended until June 19th, which remain into effect despite the fact that Ontario is moving into Stage 2. Please click here to view the orders that have been extended. While Stage 2 of the reopening plan loosens many restrictions, the government has stressed that everyone, regardless of where they live in the province, must continue to follow public health advice, including to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario extends the provincial Declaration of Emergency to June 30th, 2020

No. 20/031 – June 3, 2020

Issue:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario is extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency to June 30th, 2020. The extension, under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, was voted on and approved by the Ontario legislature on June 2nd, 2020. The vote came after Ontario’s health ministry reported an additional 446 cases of COVID-19, representing a 1.6 percent increases in total cases.

The extension will allow emergency orders that give hospitals and long-term care homes the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations to continue. Other emergency orders include allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff, enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing, and limiting long-term care and retirement home staff to working at one home.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

Despite the extension, Ontario is currently in stage one of its framework for reopening the economy. This stage allows stores with street entrances to reopen but limits gatherings of groups to five or less unless those people reside in the same household.

In the second stage, which will only begin when public health officials declare that the number of new COVID-19 cases is declining, the government will consider opening more workplaces, including some service industries and more shops; opening more public spaces and allowing slightly larger gatherings of perhaps up to 10 people.

In the third stage, all workplaces would be allowed to reopen, including indoor restaurants and bars, which are currently limited to serving takeout meals and alcohol. Restrictions on public gatherings would be relaxed, but large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events would continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.

Please click here to read CEO’s bulletin on the province’s reopening framework.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx issue Requests for Qualifications for Ontario Line

No. 20/030 – June 2, 2020

Issue:

Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Metrolinx have issued two Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) for the Ontario Line project. Fifteen stations are proposed, with numerous connections to the broader transit network, including GO Transit rail services, the Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) subway Lines 1 and 2, the future Line 5 (Eglinton Crosstown LRT), as well as bus and streetcar routes.

The Ontario Line is being delivered as three separate public-private partnership (P3) procurement contracts: one rolling stock, systems, operations and maintenance contract for the entire 15.5-kilometre line and two separate civil, stations and tunnel contracts - one for the southern segment and one for the northern segment of the line. The schedules for each contract will be aligned to allow for a single in-service date for the Ontario Line.

In addition to the three main P3 contracts, there will also be a series of early works projects for bridge, track and other preparatory activities. Early works will occur along the joint rail corridor where the Ontario Line will operate next to existing GO Transit rail services. These contracts will begin to be issued to the market later this year. 

IO has created these three separate contracts with the intention of encouraging competition and active participation from the market to support innovation and effective service delivery.

The RFQs issued today are for the first two P3 contracts, which include:

Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance (RSSOM)

  • A design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract for the entire Ontario Line, for a 30-year term
  • Rolling Stock: design, supply, operate and maintain the vehicles (trains)
  • Systems: design, build, operate and maintain all track, communications (e.g. network, Wi-Fi, CCTV, passenger information) and train control systems for the Ontario Line
  • Design, build, operate and maintain the Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility (where the vehicles are stored); the Operations Control Centre (where staff control train operations and are connected to TTC and GO Transit systems); and the Backup Operations Control Centre
  • Working collaboratively with the TTC in accordance with future operations and maintenance agreements
  • Integrating fare equipment with the PRESTO system

 

Southern Civil, Stations and Tunnel

  • A design-build-finance contract for the southern portion of the Ontario Line, from Exhibition/Ontario Place to the Don Yard portal (west of the Don River)
  • Civil: ground works required to build the tunnels and stations; utility and conduit works to prepare for the RSSOM mechanical and electrical systems; guideway structures and facilities to prepare for the track structure to be installed by the RSSOM contractor
  • Stations:
    • one above-ground station to be integrated with the existing GO Transit Exhibition Station
    • two underground stations to be integrated with the existing TTC Osgoode and Queen subway stations
    • four new underground stations (King/Bathurst, Queen/Spadina, Moss Park, Corktown)
  • Tunnel: a six-kilometre tunnel and all associated tunnelling works from Exhibition to Don Yard portal (west of Don River)

 

The RFQ for the northern civil, stations and tunnel contract, the north portion of the Ontario Line from Gerrard Station to the Ontario Science Centre, is expected to be issued in early 2022. The general scope includes seven stations, a three kilometre tunnel, two portals and the associated approach structures, bridges and elevated guideways.

This multi-pronged approach for building transit is expected to attract a more diverse pool of proponents to work on the Ontario Line. Member firms who are interested in bidding on these contracts must register with http://www.merx.com to download the RFQs. IO and Metrolinx will evaluate RFQ submissions and teams will be shortlisted and invited to respond to a Request for Proposals in Fall 2020.

In February, Ontario introduced its Building Transit Faster Act, which if passed would expedite the planning and construction of the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge Subway Extension, and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. Please click here to read more on the Bill.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Municipalities to Receive Accelerated Gas Tax Funding

No. 20/029 – June 1, 2020

Issue:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced $2.2 billion in financial support for municipalities in the form of accelerated payments from the federal Gas Tax Fund.  The assistance represents existing money already earmarked for provinces which in turn funnel it to towns and cities within their jurisdiction.  Communities will have the flexibility to use the announced funds for capital projects that meet local needs, such as expansion of high-speed internet networks, improvements to water and road systems and construction of new bike and walking paths.  Ontario’s share of today’s announced funding will be more than $800 million.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities made a public request in April for at least $10 billion in emergency funding from the federal government, $7.6 billion was proposed to cover operating losses with the remaining $2.4 billion to be dedicated to covering losses related to transit operations in major urban centers in particular.

Municipalities, whose revenues have dropped significantly amid COVID-19 lockdowns, in recent weeks have been increasingly calling for financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments.  Many are contemplating having to make reductions in essential and other important services in order to maintain operations.  Included in these decisions are the deferring or cancelling of approved infrastructure projects so that existing funds can be reallocated to sustain frontline operations. 

While grateful for the accelerated funding, mayors across the country are communicating that today’s announced funding does not go far enough.  Barred from running deficits to cover operating costs, municipalities are calling for all three levels of government to work together to develop a solution to get through the economic crisis.  The hurdle to a way forward appears to be jurisdictional responsibilities.  While the federal government controls the purse strings, cities and towns are a provincial jurisdiction, so all parties have to agree the role they will play without encroaching on the other.

The Prime Minister indicated that today’s announcement would only be the first tranche of fiscal support for municipalities.  However, he also stated that provinces must do their part as well.  What that “part” is remains to be seen as Ottawa and the provinces continue to develop the strategy.

The cost of direct government support to date is now at around $153 billion to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. The fiscal package includes wage subsidies, loan programs for companies, emergency benefits for laid-off workers and commercial rent grants.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Province Introduces New Regulation Exempting COVID-19 Related Work Reduction and Layoff from Notice and Severance Obligations (copy)

No. 20/028 – June 1, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government today announced a new regulatory amendment that will place non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to the pandemic outbreak.  The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends.

Introduced on Friday, May 29th the regulation under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) is meant to provide flexibility to employers that temporarily laid off a non-union employee or reduced non-union employee wages and/or hours due to COVID-19.  The regulation largely exempts any such layoff or reduction from being deemed a termination of employment, so that there is no obligation to provide ESA notice and severance. 

In taking this step the province is recognizing that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ontario’s economy and its workforce is expected to last much longer than the 13-week temporary layoff period provided for under the original conditions of the ESA.  Had this regulation not been passed, temporary layoffs and wage and hour reductions introduced by provincial employers in response to the pandemic would have automatically transitioned into terminations of employment through no fault of the employers or employees. 

Under the new regulatory change to the Employment Standards Act, non-unionized employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated because of the pandemic will be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Workers will remain employed with legal protections and be eligible for federal emergency income support programs.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario opens up COVID-19 testing across the province (copy)

No. 20/027 – May 29, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is implementing the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy to detect the spread of the virus.  This includes having testing made available to more people in more locations across the province.

This new phase of the province's COVID-19 testing plan entitled Protecting Ontarians Through Enhanced Testing, includes the following three branches:

  • Assessment Centre Testing: expanding who gets tested to now include asymptomatic individuals concerned about exposure and continued routine symptomatic testing at assessment centres

  • Targeted Campaigns: detecting and containing cases by expanding asymptomatic surveillance for vulnerable populations, including in long-term care homes and other shared living spaces like shelters and group homes, as well as targeted testing of workplaces in priority sectors which work with priority populations and where it may be difficult to physically distance

  • Outbreak Management: testing to ensure rapid and agile response capacity for outbreak management, including in specific neighbourhoods and regions or at hospitals, institutions and workplaces.

To help enable increased access to routine symptomatic testing, people will no longer need a referral to go to any of the more than 130 assessment centres across Ontario. Ontario will also expand proactive surveillance testing to detect outbreaks and more actively monitor any spread among most vulnerable populations. This will include testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic residents and frontline staff in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as those working with priority populations, including first responders, essential workers and other workplaces.

The province is also developing agile testing resources, such as mobile testing teams, that can be rapidly deployed into specific communities/regions that are experiencing a high volume of COVID-19 cases. The province intends on releasing an exposure notification app that will alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and will recommend corresponding appropriate actions. The province is also developing other strategies to support contact tracing, which is a tactic that can be used to break chains of transmission and prevent future waves or surges of cases.  

Now that testing is ramping up, Ontario is considering a regional approach to reopening the province despite resisting it in the past. Currently, Ontario is in Stage 1 of its reopening plan and has not said when it expects to enter into Stage 2. 

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario extends emergency orders until June 9, 2020

No. 20/026 – May 27, 2020

 

Issue:

The Ontario government is extending all emergency orders in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 9, 2020.

Current emergency orders include the closure of outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, public swimming pools and outdoor water facilities, as well as bars and restaurants with the exception of takeout and delivery. Additionally, there also continues to be restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings remain in effect.

The following emergency orders also remain active during this time:

  • Closure of Establishments
  • Prohibiting Organized Public Events, Certain Gatherings
  • Work Deployment Measures for Health Care Workers
  • Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works
  • Electronic Service
  • Work Deployment Measures in Long-Term Care Homes
  • Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses
  • Traffic Management
  • Streamlining Requirements for Long-Term Care Homes
  • Prohibition on Certain Persons Charging Unconscionable Prices for Necessary Goods
  • Closure of Outdoor Recreational Amenities
  • Enforcement of Orders
  • Work Deployment Measures for Boards of Health
  • Work Deployment Measures in Retirement Homes
  • Access to COVID-19 Status Information by Specified Persons
  • Service Agencies Providing Services and Supports to Adults with Developmental Disabilities
  • Pickup and Delivery of Cannabis
  • Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney
  • Use of Force and Firearms in Policing Services
  • Child Care Fees
  • Agreements Between Health Service Providers and Retirement Homes
  • Temporary Health or Residential Facilities
  • Closure of Public Lands for Recreational Camping
  • Work Deployment Measures for Service Agencies Providing Violence Against Women Residential Services and Crisis Line Services
  • Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home
  • Work Deployment Measures for District Social Services Administration Boards
  • Deployment of Employees of Service Provider Organizations
  • Work Deployment Measures for Municipalities
  • Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home
  • Work Deployment Measures for Mental Health and Addictions Agencies
  • Congregate Care Settings
  • Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record
  • Certain Persons Enabled to Issue Medical Certificates of Death
  • Hospital Credentialing Processes
  • Education Sector
  • Management of Long-term Care Homes in Outbreak
  • Electricity Price for RPP Consumers (until May 31, 2020)
  • Global Adjustment for Market Participants and Consumers (until June 1, 2020)

 

The arrival of pleasant seasonal weather is going to see many people take advantage of the conditions to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. While the warmer weather has already had many Ontarians break social distancing measures, it is important for everyone to remain mindful of physical distancing and other public health guidelines as we manage through this pandemic. The province has also changed its testing protocols to include anyone who is concerned that they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, even if they are not displaying and symptoms. Testing rates in the last week have been between 7,000 to 11,000 a day, however, province has not been able to meet its present testing capacity of 25,000 per day.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario announces details of the province’s first stage of the reopening framework starting on May 19, 2020

No. 20/024 – May 14, 2020

Issue:

Today the government announced that Stage One of its reopening framework for the Ontario economy will occur Tuesday May 19th. As part of the reopening, certain retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers will be permitted to open or expand their services provided that the general public health trends continue to improve.

The Stage One reopening will include:

  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction and resuming all construction
  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines;
  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

The government also announced the additional seasonal services and activities that will be permitted to open as early as Saturday May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.               

Please click here for a detailed list of the Stage One openings.

While today’s announcement is good news for people seeking a measured return to normal, the government has been clear that Ontario’s reopening will occur under strict health and safety concerns.  Businesses permitted to reopen are being encouraged to do so only when they are ready. To facilitate this, the government and health and safety associations have also released more than 90 safety guidance documents, including those related to construction. As more sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available. Premier Ford has emphasized that the province will be relying on inspectors to ensure that health and safety measures and guidelines are being followed across all sectors.

Member firms should also be aware that the government has launched a website to provide businesses with information to connect then with personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are readily able to supply personal protective equipment.

It is essential to remember that while the government is taking its first steps to reopen the provincial economy, individuals must continue to adhere to public health measures including practicing physical distancing, wearing face coverings when necessary, as well as regular handwashing and staying home when ill. While Ontario is entering Stage One of its reopening framework, the government is taking an incremental approach and there are no fixed dates for the duration of each stage. The Premier has been clear that the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to evaluate whether public health restrictions should be loosened or tightened.

If Stage 1 is successful, the province will move to Stage 2, which means the possibility of the opening of more workplaces, community and outdoor spaces, allowing for larger group gatherings and continuing to restore services while maintaining health and safety restrictions.

If Stage 2 is successful, Ontario will then move to the final stage — Stage 3. This stage could include the opening of all workplaces and relaxing restrictions on recreational spaces, public gatherings and allowing public spaces to fully open.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario extends Declaration of Emergency until June 2, 2020

No. 20/023 – May 12, 2020

Issue:

During a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature, the government extended the Declaration of Emergency until June 2, 2020. Under the extension the government will be able to continue to enforce current emergency orders to address COVID-19, while gradually reopening businesses, services, and amenities. Premier Doug Ford also announced that Ontario will enter “Stage 1” of a three-step plan to gradually reopen the province on Thursday, May 14, 2020. Please click here to read CEO’s bulletin on the framework for re-opening the Ontario economy.

The House also passed the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020, which will help people conduct business while practicing physical distancing by:

  • Providing authority to address in-person attendance rules for school board trustees' meetings in regulation;
  • Enabling corporations to call and hold meetings virtually, as applicable, and extending the time period in which annual meetings must be held in specific circumstances;
  • Allowing designations of a beneficiary to be provided electronically for Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Locked-in Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Tax-Free Savings Accounts;
  • Allowing electronic filing of business registration documents, and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of business registration documents and e-signatures;
  • Allowing for regulations to set out the parameters for remotely commissioning or notarizing a document;
  • Extending, on a one-time basis for 2020, the legislated four-year period during which a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) election is mandated to be held to give more time to support remote voting.

The Expenditure Estimates for the 2020-21 fiscal year were also tabled in the Legislature. This includes program spending to support the $17 billion announced as part of Ontario's Action Plan 2020: Responding to COVID-19 so the province's health care system, communities, and economy are better positioned to address challenges caused by the pandemic.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Provincial government to allow certain businesses to reopen under strict safety guidelines

No. 20/022 – May 1, 2020

Issue:

The provincial government announced today that it  will be allowing certain seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects  to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided general recommendations on how the openings of businesses and workplaces could be implemented to support safe operations, including strict adherence to health and safety requirements.

To that end, the government has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures are aimed at helping employers to prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected. The provincial government has made health and safety a focal point of their COVID-19 policies.

The following will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4th at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure
    • projects that support the improved delivery of goods and services
    • municipal projects
    • colleges and universities
    • child care centres
    • schools
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development
  • Garden centres and nurseries (curbside pick-up and delivery only)
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

Situational Analysis:

Today’s announcement is important for CEO member firms as it provides notice for some practice areas that they will be able reopen for business and clarifies the conditions under which they return to work.  It is imperative for member firms to be familiar with, understand and comply with established occupational health and safety guidelines defining the acceptable code of practice required in order to reopen as of Monday May 4th.

The Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO), of which CEO is an active member, worked closely with other broader construction sector stakeholders and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, to very early on in this crisis establish construction and construction-related industry guidelines for safe work practices.  These practice guidelines remain in effect and are the standard to which all businesses must adhere in order to be permitted to operate.  Information detailing these guidelines and other COVID-19 links and resources for employers and workers are available from the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA).

Background:

On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. Please click here to view CEO’s bulletin on this subject.

Conclusion:

While today’s announcement is encouraging news for the Ontario economy, the Premier stressed that the reopening of the provincial economy is going to be very gradual and that this is only a very small first step.  All future decisions will continue to be evidence-based and informed by the advice of the Chief Provincial Medical Officer of Health.  As such, there is no calendar of fixed dates for further action. In the interim, if you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Framework for re-opening the Ontario economy speaks to “how” not “when”

No. 20/021 – April 27, 2020

 Issue:

This afternoon Premier Doug Ford along with Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Economic Development, Job creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli  presented A Framework for Reopening our Province, the Ontario Government’s plan for the gradual reopening of the provincial economy. 

Billed as a roadmap for Ontario’s economic recovery efforts, the plan implements a staged approach to reviving the provincial economy informed by all necessary and appropriate measures to maintain public health and safety and to preserve the virus containment successes achieved to date.

It is important to note that today’s announcement and framework speaks to how Ontario’s economy will be reengaged and not when.  There is no calendar of dates for the implementation of the plan or how long the remobilization of the economy will take.  Rather, the government will be relying on the ongoing evidence-based advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts about how and when it can loosen current emergency measures, which will in turn provide criteria to guide the public through the gradual reopening of business, services and public spaces.

Implemented through a three stage process, with each stage lasting from two to four weeks, the provincial economic recovery plan will be implemented as follows:

Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.

Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.

Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

During these stages continued protections for vulnerable populations will remain in effect, along with continued physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

Once initiated, advancement of the economic recovery plan will be determined by the government as it considers advice received from the Chief Medical Officer of Health based on a specific set criteria influencing the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its ability to implement protective measures to maintain public health and safety. These criteria are:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

As the government prepares to implement its plan the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee (OJRC) will continue to consult with key sectors of the Ontario economy.  Since the beginning of the pandemic outbreak CEO has been communicating directly with key government minister’s offices, ministries and agencies on issues identified as important by member firms.  CEO is also an active member of the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO) and was a principal author of its recent submission to the OJRC, a copy of that submission can be found here.  CEO will continue to develop recommendations and provide advice to government on issues important to the health of our industry as the situation evolves. 

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Legal Interpretation of Essential Business: “Consulting engineers will likely find that a significant portion of their site-specific services can continue without interruption”

No. 20/016 – April 9, 2020

 Issue:

Following the Government of Ontario’s April 3rd issuing of a much narrower List of Essential Workplaces under the authority of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, Consulting Engineers of Ontario sought a legal interpretation to determine with some certainty which businesses are defined “essential” and can remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please reach out via email to request a copy of the interpretation. 

Key Finding:

While engineering is not specifically listed as an essential service, it is effectively incorporated within paragraph 1 of the List, entitled “Supply chains”:

Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.” [emphasis added]

Therefore the provision of consulting engineering services at the workplaces of any other businesses on the List, such as contract administration and site inspection, is deemed essential and permissible, provided that such services are necessary to support the operation of such businesses.

Conclusion:

Consulting engineers will need to assess, on a project-by-project basis, whether or not their site specific services such as contract administration, inspection and review, payment certification, etc. are deemed essential in that context and on the List.

Should you have any questions about this legal interpretation or have any other questions about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected] or Catherine Morrison at [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Province extends emergency orders until May 6, 2020

No. 20/020 – April 23, 2020

Issue:

Advised by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the provincial government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

While Government of Ontario extended the provincial declaration of emergency until May 12, 2020, it is important to note that all the emergency orders issued under that declaration such as the closure of non-essential workplaces, the ban on public gatherings and the like are being extended until May 6, 2020.

Included here is a list of the links for the orders that have been extended until May 6, 2020:

CEO member firms should proceed as instructed under the emergency orders until otherwise notified. Please click here to access CEO’s previous bulletin to learn more on how engineering has been interpreted as an “essential” business during this time. Please reach out via email for a copy of the associated legal opinion. 

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Updated Legal Interpretation of Essential Business – Construction of agriculture projects:

No. 20/019 – April 15, 2020

Issue:

On Saturday April 10th, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman issued a letter informing the public of a change to the list of essential businesses.  Effective immediately,

Ontario has amended the emergency order to include:

29.1 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 updated order is available at the following link: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20136

Those seeking further information can contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at [email protected] or 1-877-424-1300.

Key Finding:

This new paragraph 29.1 seems to limit “construction projects” involving the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products to only those providing additional capacity and only those due to be completed before October 4, 2020.

The question becomes, however: what about other construction projects for businesses that produce food, beverages and agricultural products? Are such projects not covered under paragraphs 1 and 24, irrespective of the date when they are due to be completed – thereby being “essential”, and the provision of engineering site services thereon being permissible? An example of such a project would be the construction of a plant for an owner in the food business which does not add additional capacity but is simply to replace or upgrade existing capacity.

Unfortunately, there is no answer. This is yet another example of a situation in which an attempt by government to provide clarity instead causes further confusion.

CEO’s legal counsel advises any member firms providing professional site services in connection with any such projects remains: assess the project. If it is due to be completed after October 2, 2020, call the Ontario Government hotline, 1-888-444-3659, for confirmation as to whether or not government considers that specific project on the essential list, and record the advice given.

Conclusion:

CEO is encouraging member firms to continue to assess, on a project-by-project basis, whether or not their site specific services such as contract administration, inspection and review, payment certification, etc. are deemed essential in that context and on the List.

Should you have any questions about this updated legal interpretation or have any other questions about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected] or Catherine Morrison at [email protected]

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Province of Ontario extends Declaration of Emergency until May 12, 2020

No. 20/018 – April 15, 2020

Issue:

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the unanimous approval of the Ontario legislature during a special sitting, the Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 12, 2020.

The 28-day extension of the provincial declaration of emergency will continue to enforce the same emergency measures that the province has enacted since March 17, 2020. Non-essential workplaces, recreational areas and public places all remain closed. Please click here to view the legal interpretation on the essential businesses list and how it impacts the industry. Please click here for the full list of emergency orders.

The legislature also passed the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act to amend the following acts:

  • Development Charges Act
  • Planning Act
  • Police Services Act
  • Education Act
  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act

Changes to the Development Charges Act will help municipalities to continue to receive a stream of revenue that will help to pay for local growth-related infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewers as well as fire and police service. The government will also make it possible to suspend certain municipal planning decision timelines during the state of emergency.

The amendments to the Police Services Act will allow the Solicitor General to give municipalities an extension beyond January 1, 2021 to prepare and adopt a community safety and well-being plan.

The amendments to the Education Act will allow school boards to continue charging fees on new construction in order to retain a vital source of revenue for new school projects. The bill also includes an amendment to provide a consistent provincewide approach to addressing school suspensions and expulsions.

The changes to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act will temporarily suspend student loan payments for OSAP borrowers and initiate a six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Province restores holdbacks: Emergency order amended to restore limitation periods and procedural time periods under the Construction Act

No. 20/017 – April 13, 2020

Issue:

The Ontario government is revising one element of its previous emergency order, O. Reg. 73/20 made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  This order suspended limitation periods and procedural time periods retroactive to March 16, 2020.  This resulted in a negative impact on the province’s engineering, professional services and construction industry by suspending the ability for project owners to release essential project holdback monies.

The emergency order has been amended to lift the suspension of limitation periods and procedural time periods under the Construction Act. This will allow for the release of holdback payments to contractors and subcontractors in the normal course, helping to resolve the significant cash flow problem that is impacting our industry. 

The suspension will be lifted on April 16, 2020, to give the industry time to prepare for these changes. Once lifted, parties will have the same amount of time to meet a deadline that had been remaining before the suspension began on March 16, 2020.

The amendments to the order also address the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. The amendments to O. Reg. 73/20 will be posted on e-Laws at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200073.

Conclusion:

Should you have any questions about this legal interpretation or have any other questions about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected] or Catherine Morrison at [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Template letter now available for member firms to address COVID-19 related project delays with clients

No. 20/015 – April 9, 2020

Issue:

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) has developed a template letter for member firms to send to their clients. This letter is intended to advocate for flexibility on unforeseeable, unavoidable and inevitable project delays and associated risks whether directly or indirectly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This letter will be a useful tool when working with public clients during these challenging times. The expectation is to have member firms use this letter as a first step in initiating discussions with municipalities on the flexibility of current modified business practices during the current crisis. CEO is also developing communications that will be distributed to municipalities to compliment this letter.

CEO asks that members not substantially modify the content of the letter. We recommend that any modifications be only to tailor the piece to your firm’s specific details (i.e.: contact information, client information, contract reference numbers, etc.). Any other modifications should be limited to any project specifications that may need to be included in the letter related to current or future assignments. 

Please use your firm’s letterhead when distributing this letter to your clients.

For a copy of the letter template please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]Please note that CEO has closed its office but staff remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Province accelerates work on essential construction projects

No. 20/014 – April 8, 2020

Issue:

During this afternoon’s briefing, Premier Doug Ford, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced that construction hours for essential construction projects will be permitted 24 hours/day.

Ontario will temporarily limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities beginning April 7, 2020. This will allow for expedited construction on new hospital builds, expansions, temporary COVID-19 response units or structures, and COVID-19 assessment centres. The extension of hours for construction projects will also follow health and safety protocols by staggering shifts, limiting the number of workers in one place, and taking precautions outlined in the guidelines issued by Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer for construction sites.

The Province is also taking the following health and safety measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Redeploying 30+ employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements;
  • Working with health and safety associations to deploy up to 30 specialists to support employers and workers in the field;
  • Issuing health and safety guidance notes to support specific sectors;
  • Doubling the capacity of Ontario's Health and Safety Call Centre from 25 to 50 phonelines;
  • Providing job-protected leave under the Employment Standards Act for workers who need to self-isolate or care for a loved one because of COVID-19;
  • Issuing a call to recently-retired inspectors who may be able and willing to return to their positions;
  • Providing compliance assistance and enforcing the emergency orders issued under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.

 

In the briefing, Minister McNaughton noted that more health and safety inspections will be performed on construction worksites across the province.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Update re: Ontario’s non-essential business list

No. 20/013 – April 7, 2020

Issue:

The Government of Ontario’s update to its essential business list has raised a number of issues and questions over the course of the weekend.  This note is an update to provide some clarity on some of those issues.

Situational Analysis:

The government’s new list of essential businesses has left many businesses across Ontario’s broader construction sector with questions about what specifically constitutes critical provincial infrastructure. 

Ministries and provincial agencies are determining for themselves which of their projects will be deemed essential.  CEO’s discussions with government and industry contacts have revealed that the interpretations of critical infrastructure and essential businesses remain fluid.  Political staff have indicated that they are not able to provide more specific direction to stakeholders on these classifications and have recommended stakeholders obtain legal advice for any questions they may have.  CEO is in the process of obtaining a legal interpretation of the revised essential businesses list to provide some clarity for our industry. 

A general read and interpretation of the revised government list seems to indicate that the construction, operation, repair and maintenance of government assets will continue.  The primary impact of the new list is in the private Institutional, Commercial and Industrial (ICI) and residential markets where, save for a few exceptions, they are no longer deemed essential and work on those sites is to cease.

Recommendations to Consider:

CEO is reminding member firms that the continuation of projects is ultimately up to the owner.  It is advisable to contact your project owners to confirm their intentions about their projects and sites. 

Some municipalities have communicated that it is their intention to carry on, business as usual.  Where member firms are continuing project work CEO reminds everyone to be mindful of required public health and occupational health and safety protocols and practices.  With health and safety top-of-mind, the government is aggressively deploying inspectors to project sites to ensure that all precautions are being observed.  Project sites found to be non-compliant will be shutdown.

CEO is also recommending member firms contact their project owners to ask for written confirmation of their intention to have work continue on their sites.  It is advisable for member firm representatives who will be attending project sites to keep a copy of this letter in their possession while on-site, should an inspector question their need to be there.  

For those that are presently in the procurement stage of the projects, CEO is also reminding member firms to be mindful of agreement terms and conditions detailing schedules and other processes and timelines.  Other industry organizations are reporting that project owners are continuing to issue and operate projects on a “business as usual” footing.  Be aware of and communicate clearly what sort of accommodation your firm requires to complete your assignment while remaining required health and safety protocols.

Conclusion:

The current project environment is continuing to evolve on a daily basis and is presenting some difficult challenges for our industry.  CEO does however, want to remind member firms that while the revised essential business list does define the requirements by which physical office spaces must be closed, it does not require the stoppage of member firm’s business operations.  The government is maintaining that teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses.

Business-owners with questions concerning their essential business status are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30 a.m.― 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m.— 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Should you have any questions about this update and how the revised essential business list applies to your business, or have any other questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected]

Please note that CEO has closed its office but staff remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: CEO and construction industry working to change Government of Ontario’s Suspension of Limitation Periods impacting Release of Holdback Funds and Liens under the Construction Act

No. 20/010 – April 6, 2020

Issue:

Ontario’s consulting and construction industry is facing a liquidity crisis and project owners have stopped releasing holdback funds.  Companies not having access to these funds will quickly lead to a lack of access to readily available cash to maintain regular business operations.

Background:

On Tuesday March 17, 2020, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency for the Province of Ontario under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  The purpose of the declaration was to enable certain powers for the government so that it could take steps to contain the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.  On Friday March 20, 2020, the province suspended limitation periods and procedural deadlines in Ontario proceedings, retroactive to March 16, 2020, under subsection 7.1(2) of the Act for at least the next 90 days.  This action has had the unintended consequence of capturing the treatment of holdback funds as Section 19 of the Limitations Act and Schedule B of the Act specifically make note of Sections 31 and 36 of the Construction Act.  The result has been the creating a liquidity crisis for Ontario’s professional and construction services industry. 

Market Impact:

The suspension of limitations effectively “deactivate” lien “clocks” under Sections 31 and 36 of the Construction Act, enabling any party to a project to file a lien against a project at any time. In addition, the suspension means existing liens cannot expire.  This puts project owners at risk should they release holdback funds.  Therefore, many (including municipalities) are receiving legal advice to not release these monies for the duration of the provincial order.   Retention of these monies is already starting to have a profound negative impact on the professional services and construction sector.

Advocating a Solution:

To address this situation Consulting Engineers of Ontario has been working with its industry partners through the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO).  The CDAO has developed and presented to government a briefing note explaining the industry’s issue with recommendations to resolve this problem. Please click here to view the briefing note. Supporting this submission, CEO staff have been having substantive conversations with senior staff in the Offices of the Premier, Attorney General, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Labour and Infrastructure Ontario.  We are pleased to report that the tabled recommended solutions have been well-received by these offices and that a decision is expected soon.

Conclusion:

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected].

Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: ONTARIO REVISES "ESSENTIAL BUSINESS" CATEGORIES TO 44 FROM 74 - ENGINEERING AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTINUE, BUT ONLY FOR "CRITICAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS" AS PROVINCE EXTENDS SHUT DOWN IN ATTEMPT TO BETTER CONTAIN COVID-19

No. 20/012 – April 3, 2020

Issue:

This afternoon, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Government of Ontario is reducing to 44 from 74 the list of businesses defined as essential to the Ontario economy.  This decision was informed by today’s earlier release of provincial pandemic modelling information indicating that without further action Ontario would experience a projected 1,600 deaths and 80,000 additional infections by the end of April.

Ontario’s engineering and related consulting services remain on the list of those businesses defined as “essential”, but only in the context of continuing critical projects.

The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves. Teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses. All supply chains necessary for the production of vital food and healthcare supplies are being protected and remain intact.

Only critical construction projects will continue, including industrial projects such as refineries and petrochemical plants and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges. New starts in residential projects will stop, while residential construction that is near completion will continue. Business-owners with questions concerning their essential business status are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30 a.m.― 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m.— 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Sectors of interest from the list of those businesses defined as essential include:

Transportation services

  1. Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including,
    1. transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and
    2. support services for transportation services, including,
      1. logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators,
      2. services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs, and
      3. marinas, but only to the extent that the marina is necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence.


Construction

  1. 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.
  2. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  3. Critical industrial construction activities required for,
    1. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    2. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    3. 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 combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Residential construction projects where,
    1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    2. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
    3. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
  5. Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.


Resources and energy

  1. Businesses that provide and ensure the domestic and global continuity of supply of resources, including mining, forestry, aggregates, petroleum, petroleum by-products and chemicals.
  2. Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage and natural gas distribution, transmission and storage.


Community services

  1. Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:
    1. Sewage treatment and disposal.
    2. Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
    3. Potable drinking water.
    4. Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
    5. Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean-up and response.
    6. Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses.
    7. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.
    8. 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.

The full updated essential businesses list can be found here.

The government is implementing additional measures to protect frontline workers in essential businesses by adding more than 60 special consultants and officers and doubling the number of phone agents at its Health and Safety Call Centre to 50 to make it easier for workers to report safety concerns. Workers worried their workplaces are unsafe can phone 1-877-202-0008 to speak with an agent.

CEO is strongly encouraging member firms to closely review and consider this bulletin and the link to the government’s full list of essential businesses.  Should you have any question about how today’s revised emergency order applies to your business, please contact the government hotline provided above.  If you have any other questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at 416.970.6833 or [email protected]. 

Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development issues health and safety practices guideline for construction sites

No. 20/011 – March 30, 2020

Issue:

On March 29th, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development issued a set of guidelines developed by Chief Prevention Officer Ron Kelusky for best health and safety practices for construction sites and legal responsibilities for employers during the COVID-19 crisis. Please click here to view the guide. 

The update follows an initial guidance document circulated on March 20, 2020 that was developed through the Labour Management Committee of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association with the participation of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA).

The guide addresses sector topics including:

  • Providing better on-site sanitation, including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists
  • Communicating roles, responsibilities, and health & safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules
  • Enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage
  • Protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers

In addition to measures being taken by the Province, the Canadian Construction Association has also released a COVID-19 Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites. Please click here to view the document. The document provides best practices and a national approach for employers and employees to follow in order to protect themselves and the public at large and help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

CEO is advising member firms that Ministry of Labour inspectors are actively inspecting job sites. The Ministry has stated that employers and constructors should be aware that failure to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations could result in a stop work order.

CEO is recommending member firms to be aware of these updated protocols at both the provincial and national level. The standards represented in both the Province’s Chief Prevention Officer’s Guide and the CCA’s Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites document may be factors that could be considered to be within a Consultant’s Standard of Care.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update- Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

No. 20/009 – March 30, 2020

Issue:

On March 25th, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released an economic and fiscal update and pandemic response entitled Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. The update provides a one year economic and fiscal forecast that the government will update regularly throughout the year.  Having two primary objectives of increasing the capacity of the province’s health care system and providing immediate supports that will protect the health of people, businesses, and the Ontario economy, the response plan is a $17 billion package with measures intended to complement the federal government’s response the pandemic.  This relief includes $7 billion in new investments and $10 billion in deferred tax obligations. Please note that the Province has delayed its release of the annual budget to the fall.

Economic and Fiscal Update:

The Province is projecting a deficit of $9.2 billion in 2019–20, an improvement of $1.1 billion relative to the 2019 Budget. As a result of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is planning for a deficit of $20.5 billion in 2020–21. The government will release a multi-year provincial Budget by November 15, 2020. This approach will allow the government to continue assessing the economic climate and put forward a long-term outlook based on the most recent and reliable data.

Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19:

 Through the published action plan, the Government of Ontario is dedicating $1 billion to a COVID-19 contingency fund, $2.5 billion in reserve, and an increased contingency fund of $1.3 billion to provide flexibility to respond to the evolving state of the pandemic. The plan also includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources.

Below is a condensed breakdown of the finical resources and measures being committed by the Province to address COVID-19:

  • Defer $6 billion of provincially administered taxes (April 1 to August 31)

  • Defer $1.9 billion of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and expenses for employers for 6 months

  • Retroactively reduce the Employer Health Tax (EHT) and temporarily increase the exemption from $490,000 to $1 million

  • Help support regions lagging in employment growth with the proposed new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

  • Provide $935 million for the hospital sector, including $594 million to address capacity issues, as well as $341 million for an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and additional assessment centres

  • Increase public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, and laboratory and home testing, while also investing in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario

  • Provide $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector, as well as funding for 24/7 screening, more staffing to support infection control, and supplies and equipment to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Provide additional supports of $26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations

To read the economic and fiscal update please click here. To view the full list of measures detailed in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to Covid-19 please click here.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Federal Government’s Emergency Bill C-13 passes through Parliament and receives Royal Assent

No. 20/008 – March 27, 2020

 Issue:

On March 25th, Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent, guaranteeing the implementation of measures needed to uphold public health and safety directives and stabilize the economy as the pandemic evolves.

The final legislation includes a notable change to Prime Minister Trudeau’s $82 billion economic stimulus package announced last week. The package, which included the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit is now being merged to create one package called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB is available to Canadian workers affected by the current situation whether or not they are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

The CERB will provide workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19 a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months.

The benefit will provide aid to the following:

  • Individuals who have lost their jobs
  • Individuals who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19,
  • Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures
  • Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation related to COVID-19
  • Contract workers & self-employed Canadians who not eligible for EI

Canadians receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and do not need to reapply for the CERB.  Furloughed workers and those who are still technically employed but not receiving income would also qualify for the benefit. An online portal will be launching and benefits should be available within 10 days of applying. The Prime Minister stated 1,300 civil servants have been deployed to process applications submitted to date.

In addition to the CERB, please see below for other measures outlined in the legislation:

  • Support for Canadian businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) by temporarily providing the Minister of Finance with more flexibility to determine BDC’s capital limit

  • Help for businesses to keep their workers by providing eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months

  • Support for Canadian businesses through Export Development Canada (EDC) by temporarily providing the Minister of Finance with more flexibility in setting EDC’s capital and liability limits – as well as the Canada Account limit – and expanding EDC’s ability to engage in domestic financial transactions

  • Support for provinces and territories with a COVID-19 Response Fund that would provide one-time funding of $500 million

  • Support for the availability of drugs and medical devices by providing the Government with the authority to make regulations to address any future shortages of therapeutic products

  • Provide the authority to a federal minister to requisition funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health to support federal efforts to prevent or control the spread of COVID-19

  • Provide the Minister of Finance with flexibility to respond expeditiously to COVID-19 developments, by amending the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to temporarily remove the requirement for the Minister of Finance to receive Governor in Council’s authorization in order to use emergency powers

  • Support for the protection of Canadians’ savings by providing the Minister of Finance with the flexibility to increase the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation’s deposit insurance limit beyond its current level of $100,000

The above items are just some of the measures the federal government is taking to address COVID-19. To view the full list of the items included in the legislation please click here.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Engineering and related professional services deemed “essential” by Ontario government ahead of provincial shut down to attempt to contain COVID-19 pandemic

No. 20/007 – March 23, 2020

ISSUE:

This evening the Government of Ontario provided much sought detail on those businesses that will be permitted to remain open after 11:59pm Tuesday March 24, 2020. Ontario’s engineering and related consulting services appear to be wholly included on the list of those businesses defined as “essential”.

Due to the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province is ordering at-risk workplaces to close-down. Businesses that must close are however being encouraged to explore options to continue their operations through what it is calling “work-from-home and innovative business models”. While those businesses deemed essential will remain open, the government is reminding people associated with those businesses to enact “protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public”.

Those businesses defined as essential include, but are not limited to grocery stores and pharmacies, telecommunications and IT infrastructure service providers, and businesses that support power generation, natural gas distribution and clean drinking water. The complete list of businesses the government has defined as essential can be found here. Employers and owners of these businesses are being asked to put into place any and all measures to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees.

Sectors of interest from the list of those businesses defined as essential include:

Institutional, Residential, Commercial and Industrial Maintenance

13. 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, including, property management services, plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, , security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services.

Construction

26. 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; 

27. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-today maintenance;

28. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors; 29. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects

Resources

35. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains in Northern Ontario including; a. Mining operations, production and processing; b. Mineral exploration and development; c. Mining Supply and Services that support supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety.

Environmental Services

40. Businesses that support environmental management/monitoring and spill clean-up and response, including 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;

Utilities and Community Services

41. Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services: a. Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal; b. Potable drinking water; c. Electricity Generation, transmission, distribution and storage; d. Natural Gas distribution, transmission and storage, e. Road construction and maintenance; f. police, fire, emergency services including coroner services and pathology services ; g. corrections and courts services; h. other government services including licenses and permits;

42. Businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);

65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators;

While emphasizing essential businesses in tonight’s announcement, the government is also reminding everyone that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

The list contained in tonight’s announcement speaks broadly to numerous sectors. Questions will undoubtedly emerge about specific practices and services and clarification by government may be necessary.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario Passes Emergency Pandemic Legislation

No. 20/006 – March 20, 2020

ISSUE:

The Ontario Legislature convened Thursday afternoon at 1:00 pm for an emergency session. With the minimum number of MPPs required to achieve quorum to pass legislation Premier Ford tabled two pieces of legislation to enable the province to take steps to manage the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, provides job protection for employees unable to work and who are in quarantine or self-isolation, including parents who need to look after children because of school or daycare closures, or to care for other relatives, retroactive to January 25, 2020. Additional details about the specifics of the Act can be found here.

  2. The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020, allows municipal councils and local boards to meet electronically when in-person meetings cannot be held, as well as ensuring that municipal noise by-laws don’t impact urgent deliveries.


Both bills were passed with unanimous consent by the 26 MPPs present at Queen’s Park. The government also acted to extend the validity of several pieces of identification, including drivers' licences, health cards, and plate renewals. Additional details on these extensions can be found here. They have also committed to continuing the delivery of time-critical services including Motor Vehicle Inspection Station Stock orders and Single-Trip Oversize/Overweight permits.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.  

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Canada announces $82 billion economic support plan to combat impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

No. 20/005 – March 18, 2020

Issue:

Today Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the federal government’s $82 billion economic response plan to address the impacts of COVID-19. While the government is taking extraordinary measures during these extraordinary times, the Prime Minister has emphasized that Canadians will receive the support that they need and that Canada is in a strong economic position to adapt and evolve with the current state of affairs. 

The $82 billion package which represents 3% of Canada’s GDP includes $27 billion in direct supports and $55 billion to help business liquidity for business and household needs through tax deferrals.

Outlined below are just some of the direct support measures that the federal government is taking to respond to COVID-19. A full detailed list of the government’s economic stimulus package can be found here.

The emergency aid plan includes:

  1. Support for Workers:
  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support;
  • A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don't qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance (EI). The measure could disburse up to $10 billion;
  • A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment;
  • Provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans to borrowers who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the outbreak;
  • Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, 2020

  1. Support for Businesses
  • Allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020;
  • Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses;
  • Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses;
  • Support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months

  1. Support for Vulnerable Groups
  • Reduce the minimum withdrawals from RRIFs by 25% for 2020.
  • Implement a six-month, interest-free, moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments.
  • Provide $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund
  • $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centers.

In order to move forward with implementing these new measures needed to provide timely support for Canadians and to ensure the Government is able address potential challenges that may arise, the Government intends to introduce special legislation and seek the approval of Parliament.

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. We will continue to closely monitor government activity and provide update to members on important developments as information becomes available.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Government of Ontario Declares State of Emergency amid COVID-19

No. 20/004 – March 17, 2020

 Issue:

The Government of Ontario announced today that it is declaring a state of emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Please note that the Premier has emphasized that this is not a provincial shutdown; essential services and supply chains remain supported. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, public transit is still available and construction projects will continue.  Several establishments have been legally required to close. Please click here for a list of establishments that will not be providing services until further notice.

The government has also advised under direction from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health that all organized public events of over fifty (50) people are prohibited. This order was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.

The government is investing $304 million to respond to COVID-19. Below is a monetary breakdown of the measures being taken by Ontario:

  • $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals;
  • $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province;
  • $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients;
  • $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres;
  • $50 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening;
  • $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing
  • $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes
  • $4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.


For more information on the government’s measures to address COVID-19 please follow this link

Conclusion:

If you have any questions about this bulletin do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, [email protected]. Please note that CEO has closed its office but employees remain active at this time. CEO will be providing an update on our activities in the near future.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Proceed Cautiously with Indemnity Agreements in Ontario-based Contracts

No. 20/003 – March 13, 2020

Issue:

HUB International has informed CEO that AXA XL has highlighted an issue related to indemnity agreements for contracts written in Ontario. Members are advised to beware of indemnity agreements that include language such as “hold harmless” or “save/hold harmless”. This language is being interpreted in Ontario as providing a duty to defend the client, which is not insurable by professional liability insurance policies.

The case law started with Stewart Title Guarantee Company v. Zeppieri, (2009) O.J. No. 332. In this case, in 2009, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held, without providing any support, that “the contractual obligation to save harmless, in my view, is broader than that of indemnification, in that someone having the benefit of a hold harmless provision should never have to put his hand in his pocket with respect to the claim”.

Over the last several years, courts have been relying on the Stewart Title decision to distinguish between the terms “indemnity” and “save/hold harmless”. They have defined “hold/save harmless” to mean the indemnified party should be saved/held harmless from any costs, including upfront defence costs. This continues to be a grey area. Out of an abundance of caution CEO members should be taking the issue off the table through contract wording. Please see the following sample indemnity agreement that has been written by AXA XL:

The Consultant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Client against all damages arising directly from the Consultant's negligent performance of the services under this Agreement.

 HUB has also advised CEO members to add the following in red clause to indemnity agreements to clarify that your firm will not be defending the client. This has also been written by AXA XL:

Notwithstanding the duty to indemnity and hold harmless, the parties expressly agree that the Consultant has no duty to defend or fund or the defence of the Client from and against any claims, causes of action, or proceedings of any kind. However, the Consultant expressly agrees, after adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction, to reimburse the Client pursuant to this provision for any costs and fees determined by court to have been reasonably, necessarily and actually incurred by the Client In the defence of those claims specifically caused by the Consultant’s negligence.

Conclusion

If you have any questions about this bulletin, do not hesitate to contact your insurer or David Zurawel at (416) 620-1400 ext. 222 or [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620-1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

ADVISORY TO MEMBERS: City of Kingston RFP contains problematic terms and conditions

No. 20/002 – February 3, 2020

 Issue:

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult their insurance and legal counsel before submitting project proposals to the City of Kingston. CEO recently proposed amendments for the City’s Request for Proposal No. F31-CES-FMCS-2019-18- Asset Inventory and Building Condition Assessments for Various Locations. Consequently, member firms considering future RFP submissions are advised that some terms and conditions will be very difficult, if not impossible, to adequately insure through our industry’s insurance providers.  

CEO Position:

Provisions in the City’s RFP creates five significant areas of concern for Consultants:

  • Section 4.02 Deliverables Warranty requires Consultants to ensure that their deliverables “will be free from defects in material, workmanship and design”. This provision goes beyond a Consultant’s standard of care.

The RFP language, includes the terms “Warranty” and “warrants”.  Both imply an unattainable standard of perfection for the Consultant to achieve therefore, it was recommended that these terms be removed. CEO also noted that clauses addressing deliverables for professional services should not be subject to revision of work based on a broad “opinion” of the City.  CEO proposed that the City use the industry’s accepted standard of care language when establishing requirements for the delivery of professional services.

  • Section 6.05 Injunctive and Other Relief allows the City to arbitrarily “obtain” injunctive relief without any substantial proof of damage

CEO explained to the City that is unreasonable for a client to impose this requirement and recommended that this clause should be amended to state that “…the Owner is entitled to seek injunctive relief…” upon the basis of proven damage.

  • Section 7.03 Ownership of Intellectual Property allows the City to have sole ownership over any “Newly Created Intellectual Property” created by the Consultant over the course of the project.

It is unreasonable for the City to impose a one-sided and unilateral decision to obtain a Consultant’s Intellectual Property “… immediately following the creation thereof, for all time”.  CEO also pointed out that this provision may hinder Consultants from developing proprietary deliverables, which will stifle innovation for infrastructure projects. CEO recommended that this clause be removed.

  • Section 7.04 Supplier’s Grant of License allows the City to City to boundlessly use the Consultant’s Intellectual Property

CEO noted the City would be exposing itself to substantial risk should it use the Consultant’s Intellectual Property for potential designs or other products outside of the scope of their originally intended purpose. Further, should the City or its agents inappropriately modify or use this intellectual property under such conditions, it would subject the Consultant to an unreasonable liability over which it would have no control.

 CEO proposed that the City replaces 7.03 Ownership of Intellectual Property and 7.04 Supplier’s Grant of License with the Intellectual Property clause found in the current version of the MEA/CEO Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services.

  • Section 8.01 Supplier Indemnity would be very difficult, if not impossible for CEO member firms to obtain adequate and appropriate professional liability insurance coverage due to the overly broad terms and conditions.

The City’s indemnification clause is problematic as it is not expressly tied to Consultant negligence. The clause creates an expectation that Consultants “…indemnify and hold harmless the Indemnified Parties for any incidental, indirect, special or consequential damages…”. CEO informed the City that damages that are not expressly and reasonably tied to a Consultant’s negligent acts, errors, or omissions are very difficult to insure as our member’s professional liability coverage does not apply.

CEO proposed that the City replaces 8.01 Supplier Indemnity with the Indemnification clause in the current version of the MEA/CEO Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services.

Conclusion:

CEO is therefore advising members to carefully review the terms and conditions of assignments from the City of Kingston. Member firms should consult with their insurance and legal counsel before accepting any questionable agreement terms. Should you experience difficulty, contact CEO and make use of our contract Rapid Response Service.  CEO staff will work with you to assess the problem and where possible develop an industry position addressing your concerns that we will use to advocate on your behalf to try and achieve necessary change.

Should you have any questions about this advisory, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or (416) 620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison at [email protected] or (416) 620-1400 ext. 226.

 

Bulletin to Members: Infrastructure Ontario Releases Winter 2020 Update to P3 Project Pipeline

No. 20/001 – January 30, 2020

ISSUE:

This morning Infrastructure Ontario released its Winter 2020 P3 Market Update document (project pipeline).

Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott and agency president and chief executive officer Ehren Cory last fall announced a new program of regular updates for the project pipeline. The program will provide full updates in the spring and fall seasons, including information on new projects coming into the market. Minor updates during the winter and summer seasons will focus on scheduling adjustments to current projects.

The Winter 2020 Project Pipeline includes changes to four projects:

  • Ontario Line Subway project financial close has been updated to Spring 2022;
  • Grandview Children’s Treatment Centre has moved into pre-procurement from project planning;
  • QEW Credit River Bridge project financial close has been updated to September 2020; and,
  • GO Expansion: Union Station Upgrade – Platform Expansion project has been updated to reflect the use of Alliance procurement, the issuing of the RFP in February 2020 and financial close in Winter 2021. A copy of the pipeline document can be found here.


CONCLUSION


If you have any questions about this bulletin, do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at (416) 620-1400 ext. 222 or [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620-1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

Communiqué to Members: InnServices issues addendum to include negligence-based indemnification language however, additional concerns remain unaddressed

No. 19/005 – November 12, 2019

Background: 

On October 21, 2019 CEO informed InnServices of its concerns with multiple clauses contained in RFP No. P-19-CWW251- Engineering Services for Sewage Pumping Station # 4 Upgrades. InnServices issued a subsequent addendum that addressed CEO’s concerns pertaining to the Section 8.01 Supplier Indemnity clause.  The revised language includes terms for negligence-based indemnification. While CEO recognizes and appreciates this revision, InnServices did not address the other issues brought to its attention.

CEO’s Position:

CEO has identified the following additional clauses of concern that have not been addressed:  

  • 2.01 Lack of Reciprocal Indemnity

CEO highlights that this clause does not provide for reciprocal indemnity from InnServices to the Consultant. CEO expressed that such expectations were not reasonable and did not reflect a balanced approach to indemnification that should be applied to public infrastructure projects in Ontario, therefore CEO recommended that this clause be removed.

  • 3.05 Responsibility of Supplier 

This clause establishes the Consultant’s liability for the conduct of its directors, officers, employees, agents, partners, affiliates, volunteers and subcontractors without limiting the liability to negligent acts or omission. CEO informed InnServices that Consultants cannot be appropriately insured and bear the liability for “…all damages, costs, expenses, losses, claims or actions arising from any breach of the Contract resulting from the actions of the above-mentioned individuals and entities” unless these provisions are the result of negligent errors or omissions. CEO proposed that the clause be amended so as to facilitate the Consultant’s ability to secure the required insurance.

  • 4.02 Deliverables Warranty

CEO informed InnServices that this clause was more applicable to an equipment/material supply contract and not appropriate for a Professional Services contract. CEO recommended that this clause be removed. CEO also noted that any clauses addressing deliverables for professional services should not be subject to revision of work based on a broad “opinion” of InnServices. CEO further recommended that the following language be inserted into clauses that address deliverables and potential rectification: “Any rectification notice must have reasonable request for corrections referencing the original scope of work, the Contract, Industry Standards, and/or Requirements of Law”.   

  • 6.05 Injunctive and Other Relief

It is CEO’s position that it is unreasonable and unacceptable for Consultants to abide by InnServices’ ability to arbitrarily “obtain” injunctive relief without any proof of damage. CEO recommended that this clause be amended to state that “…InnServices is entitled to seek injunctive relief…” upon the basis of proven damage.

Conclusion:

Members who have bid on Request for Proposal No. P-19-CWW251- Engineering Services for Sewage Pumping Station # 4 Upgrades should be aware that while InnServices has updated its indemnification clause with negligence-based language, there are still several areas of concern in the contract.

CEO encourages member firms to refer to the commentary above when bidding on current and future projects with InnServices and continues to recommend a thorough review of all RFP and contract documents.

Should you have any questions about this bulletin, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

ADVISORY TO MEMBERS: Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury RFP contains problematic Terms and Conditions

No. 19/006 – November 11, 2019

 Issue:

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult their insurance and legal counsel before submitting project proposals to the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. CEO recently proposed amendments for the Town’s Request for Proposal No. P-19-64- Professional Engineering Consulting Services for the Bradford Water Pollution Control Plant Reviews and Upgrades Project. The Town has yet to respond to our concerns. Consequently, member firms considering future RFP submissions are advised that some terms and conditions will be very difficult, if not impossible, to adequately insure through our industry’s insurance providers.

CEO Position:

CEO strongly believes that having fair, insurable agreements attracts more positive interest from the consulting engineering industry and leads to better project outcomes for clients.  

Provisions in the Town’s RFP create five significant areas of caution for Consultants:

  • Section 4.02 Deliverables Warranty appears to be applicable to an equipment/material supply contract, as such its inclusion in a Professional Services contract is not appropriate as it contains language that exceeds a reasonable Standard of Care.

CEO informed the Town that provisions such as “shall be free from defects in material, workmanship and design” go beyond a Consultant’s standard of care. CEO also noted that this language, and the inclusion of “Warranty” in the title of the clause imply an unattainable standard of perfection and recommended it be removed. CEO also informed the town that clauses addressing deliverables for professional services should not be subject to revision of work based on a broad “opinion”.  CEO recommended that the following alternative language be used to address deliverables: “Any rectification notice must have reasonable request for corrections referencing the original scope of work, the Contract, Industry Standards, and/or Requirements of Law”.   

  • Section 6.05 Injunctive and Other Relief allows the Town to arbitrability obtain injunctive relief

CEO believes strongly that the requirement for the Consultant to abide by the ability for the Town to arbitrarily “obtain” injunctive relief without any substantial evidence of damage is unreasonable and unacceptable. CEO recommended that the clause be amended to state that owners are entitled to seek injunctive relief upon the basis of proven damage.

  • Section 8.01 Consultant Indemnity establishes a one-sided indemnity and is not limited to a Consultant’s negligence acts, errors, and omissions.

As written, this indemnification clause does not require the Town to provide any obligation of indemnification for any acts that would cause harm/damage to the Consultant. CEO also informed the Town that requiring Consultants to indemnify and hold harmless the “Indemnified parties from and against any and all [Claims]” is a problematic requirement when not expressly tied to a Consultant’s negligence.

  • Section 8.01 Consultant Indemnity requires Consultants to indemnify vaguely defined parties who may not be under the care and control of Consultants.

CEO informed that Town that the inclusion of indemnified parties such as “independent contractors” is not reasonable as Consultants cannot be expected to assume any liability for any damages or delays caused by parties outside of their control or responsibility. CEO also noted that the provision “or otherwise in connection with, the Contract” further aggravates this condition by creating a vaguely defined liability that would include parties that are outside of the Consultant’s control or responsibility. CEO proposed that the Town omit both of the aforementioned terms so as to establish a reasonable limitation of liability for the Consultant. 

  • Section 8.01 Consultant Indemnity subjects Consultants to undue penalties for unreasonable damages.

The clause creates an expectation that Consultants “…indemnify and hold harmless the Indemnified Parties for any incidental, indirect, special or consequential damages…”. CEO advised the Town that these types of damages are very often difficult to accurately quantify, and as such are prone to create a liability to be borne by the Consultant that is disproportionate to the risk inherent to the services they are contracted to provide. 

Conclusion:

CEO encourages members to make project decisions on a case-by-case basis, having carefully reviewed the terms and conditions and considered the merits of individual assignments.  Consult with your insurance and legal counsel before accepting any questionable agreement terms; and should you experience difficulty, contact CEO and make use of our contract Rapid Response Service.  CEO staff will work with you to assess the problem and where possible develop an industry position addressing your concerns that we will use to advocate on your behalf to try and achieve necessary change.

Should you have any questions about this advisory, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or (416) 620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison at [email protected] or (416) 620-1400 ext. 226.

 

Bulletin to Members: Adjudication is in full effect in Ontario: this is what you need to know

No. 19/008 – November 8, 2019

Issue

On October 1st, 2019 the prompt payment and adjudication provisions of Ontario’s Construction Act (“the Act”) came into effect. The Ontario Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contracts (“ODACC”), also known as the Authorized Nominating Authority (“ANA”) under the Act, has published its pre-designed adjudication processes, timelines and fees as this final phase of the Act comes into force. CEO is encouraging member firms to carefully read the summary below on the adjudication processes and the related timelines and fees.  Full details on the adjudication regime are available on the ODACC website. CEO is strongly urging member firms to familiarize themselves with the details of the adjudication process and to understand the obligations that now exist under the new law.

Adjudication

The adjudication process is intended to resolve construction disputes outside of the courts or alternative dispute resolution processes in a timely fashion, as the project is being completed, and to keep money flowing through the construction pyramid. It provides for the Adjudicator to render a determination a maximum of 30-days after receiving the documents of the party referring the matter to adjudication, unless both parties agree to an extension. The scope of issues that can be adjudicated are limited to; valuation of services, payment (including changes orders or proposed change orders), notices of non-payment, claims for set-off (against liens or trusts), payment or non-payment of holdback, and other disputes to which parties agree.

While the Adjudicator has the discretion to conduct adjudications in the manner he or she determines is appropriate for the circumstances, the ODACC has prepared the following four pre-designed Adjudication Processes to:

  • allow Parties to have a sense of the anticipated cost to adjudicate their dispute;
  • allow Parties to have some input into the Adjudicator’s decision regarding the design of the appropriate process;
  • help Adjudicators to ensure that the cost of the process is proportionate to the amount in dispute; and
  • minimize disputes between Parties and the Adjudicator that could arise over fees.

  • Pre-Designed Adjudication Process #1 (Two-Page Written Adjudication):

Adjudication in writing only, with the submissions of Parties’ arguments and photographs limited to two (2) pages per Party (not including a copy of the construction contract and disputed invoice, both of which must be submitted); and the adjudicator’s determination is expected to be approximately one to two (1-2) pages.

  • Pre-Designed Adjudication Process #2 (Five-Page Written Adjudication):

Adjudication in writing only, with the submissions of Parties’ arguments and photographs limited to five (5) pages per Party (not including a copy of the construction contract and disputed invoice, both of which must be submitted); and the adjudicator’s determination is expected to be approximately one to two (1-2) pages.

  • Pre-Designed Adjudication Process #3 (Five-Page Written Adjudication plus Ten Pages of Documents):

Adjudication in writing only, with the submissions of Parties’ arguments and photographs limited to five (5) pages per Party (not including a copy of the construction contract and disputed invoice, both of which must be submitted); Each Party may submit additional documents, parts of documents and witness statements to a maximum of ten (10) pages; and the adjudicator’s determination is expected to be approximately five (5) pages.

  • Pre-Designed Adjudication Process #4 (Oral Webcast Adjudication, Ten Page Submissions and Documents):

Submission of Parties’ arguments and photographs is limited to ten (10) pages per Party (not including a copy of the construction contract and disputed invoice, both of which must be submitted); Each Party may submit additional documents, parts of documents, and witness statements to a maximum of 25 pages (in total); Each Party has half an hour to make an oral presentation; Presentation can be conducted by videoconference or teleconference (but will not be in person); and Determination is expected to be approximately five (5) pages.

An important aspect of these pre-designed processes is that they all allow for submission of disputed contracts and invoices. This puts an increased significance on the wording and language used in parties’ contracts and invoices at all levels of a project. CEO is encouraging member firms to work with project clients to have included in their contracts the terms and conditions necessary to accommodate the processes and timelines required to facilitate the proper execution of their professional services according to the new system.  Equally important, CEO is encouraging member firms, if they have not already done so, to review and modify their internal document management and information systems.  The nature and tight timelines of the adjudication process will require firms to modify current protocols so that project-relevant information such as proposals, agreements, drawings, invoices, emails, notes and memos can be produced and shared in a timely fashion.  A firm’s success at adjudication will chiefly be driven by having on-hand fact-based evidence.

Timelines

The ODACC has also published several suggested adjudication timelines based on the Act. All four pre-designed adjudication processes have the same first four suggested steps (with some slight deviations depending on the selected process). Each timeline begins with the appointment of an adjudicator:

  • Day 1: The adjudicator is selected by the parties or appointed by ODACC.

  • Day 5: Claimant sets out its position, provides a copy of the construction contract and disputed invoice, and supplies any documents that it intends to rely on

  • Day 7: The adjudicator determines the balance of the adjudication process and communicates that to the parties, including the respondent’s deadline to respond to the claimant’s submission

  • Day 12: The respondent submits a response


Following these first stages of each adjudications process, the remaining steps are suggested as follows (determined by the nature of the pre-designed processes):

  • Pre-designed Adjudication Processes 1-3 all require an adjudicator’s Draft Determination to be provided to ODACC on Day 20.

  • Pre-designed Adjudication Processes 4 requires an oral hearing on Day 18 followed by the adjudicator’s Draft Determination to be provided to ODACC on Day 25.

Unless an extension is granted, having been agreed to by the parties to the adjudication, the entire adjudication process for all pre-designed options state that a decision will be released by ODACC 35 days after an adjudicator is appointed pursuant to the requirements in the Act. Please visit the ODACC website for additional timeline details.  

Fees

The adjudication process comes with associated Adjudication Fees that may be agreed upon by the Claimants, Respondents and Adjudicator. In the event that the Parties and Adjudicator are not able to agree upon the fee, the ODACC has set the following Adjudication Fee structure: 

Adjudication Fee, if Parties and Adjudicator Do Not Agree on the Adjudication Fee

Amount Claimed on Notice of Adjudication

Adjudication Fee

≤ $9,999

$800

$10,000 ≤ $24,999

$1,000

$25,000 ≤ $34,999

$2,000

$35,000 ≤ $49,999

$3,000

$50,000 ≤ $249,999

Adjudicator hourly rate of $250

$250,000 ≤ $499,999

Adjudicator hourly rate of $400

$500,000 ≤ $1,000,000

Adjudicator hourly rate of $500

> $1,000,000

Adjudicator hourly rate of $750


Please see the ODACC website for additional information on Adjudication Fees, Adjudication Referral Fees, Certification Fees, and Adjudicator Appointment Fees. 

What this means for CEO Members

The adjudication process is expected to help resolve disputes for any construction procurements that commenced as of October 1, 2019. Now that different adjudication processes have been clearly established, CEO expects to see an eventual increase in disputes using this system as parties learn to apply and respond to the new rules. CEO members should prepare and familiarize themselves with the adjudication processes, timelines, and fees.

Conclusion

For more information on Adjudication Processes, Timelines and Fees, please visit the ODACC website at www.odacc.ca. Should you have any questions about this bulletin, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

ADVISORY TO MEMBERS: INSTANCES OF MUNICIPAL ASSIGNMENT DOCUMENTS MISREPRESENTING THE MEA/CEO CLIENT/ENGINEER AGREEMENT FOR PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE OCCURRED

No. 19/005 – September 26, 2019

Issue:

It has been brought to CEO’s attention that some municipalities are using outdated versions of the MEA/CEO Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services (“MEA/CEO Agreement”), or are altering the copyrighted document and/or falsely presenting their own terms and conditions as the MEA/CEO Agreement. These alternate versions of the Agreement are in violation of copyright and can contain uninsurable and unacceptable terms and conditions. CEO is advising member firms to use caution and carefully review anything that appears to be the MEA/CEO Agreement that is contained in municipal assignment documents.

CEO Position:

It is CEO’s position that municipalities should not be procuring professional services under the guise of the MEA/CEO Agreement if the terms and conditions have been altered. Member firms should not accept any terms and conditions or sign any municipal contracts presented as the MEA/CEO Agreement before reviewing the language against the official document.

CEO has updated the MEA/CEO Agreement to a fillable field format that enables consultants and municipalities to customize the agreement for individual projects and to easily make necessary changes through supplementary conditions. To view the up to date Agreement, please click here. Please note that CEO will be updating the MEA/CEO Agreement to conform with the upcoming changes to the Construction Act.

Conclusion:

While the misuse and misrepresentation of the MEA/CEO Standard Agreement in municipal assignment documents may not be widespread, CEO is notifying member firms to be cautious as they could potentially be accepting unreasonable and/or uninsurable terms and conditions.  Should you encounter an altered version of the MEA/CEO Standard Agreement, CEO is encouraging member firms to contact their insurance provider, legal counsel and us to make use of our contract Rapid Response Service.

Should you have any questions about this advisory, the MEA/CEO Standard Agreement or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or (416) 620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison at [email protected] or (416) 620-1400 ext. 226.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION (COR™): WHAT IMPACT & IMPLICATIONS THE CONSULTING ENGINEERING INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CONSIDER

No. 19/006 – September 19, 2019

Issue:

Since 2015, CEO has identified the Certificate of Recognition (COR™) as an emerging issue requiring the attention of the Consulting Engineering industry. Public sector clients are increasingly expecting Consultants and professional service providers to be COR™ registered or certified as a requirement to qualify for their project assignments. While COR™ was initially developed for contractors and subcontractors, the market is evolving to use COR™ as a risk management tool to vet proponents based on their commitment to a quality occupational health and safety management system. The philosophy behind the requirement of COR™ for Consultants bidding on public work is continuing to spread throughout provincial and municipal procurement systems across the province.

Most notably, Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, the City of Toronto, Toronto Transit Corporation, City of Brampton, and Town of Milton all have COR™ requirements for professional services proponents. The number of participating public sector clients is expected to continue to grow.

Background:

Introduced to Ontario in 2011, COR™ became a requirement for contractors and sub-contractors working on provincial government and agency projects. As a health and safety management system, COR™ is aimed to reduce the human and financial costs associated with workplace incidents and injuries and provides a foundation to develop, monitor, and advance a firm’s health and safety as well as mitigate risk.

As COR™ continues to integrate into the Ontario marketplace, there has been a clear desire from public clients to have both their Contractors and Consultants aligned with the same safety culture, and as such they have decided to make COR™ registration and/or certification a requirement for Consultants within their RFPs.

Conclusion:

Member firms can expect to see an increased requirement to be COR™ registered and/or certified in more public sector RFPs. Consulting Engineers need to consider and anticipate the growing public sector client requirement to be COR™ certified/registered. Please see the attached background document for more detailed information on COR™ in the Consulting Engineering industry.

For information on your role as Consultant and the COR™ certification process please contact David Zurawel at 416-620-1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison at 416-620-1400 ext. 226.

 

Communiqué to Members: City of Ottawa to consider proposed revisions during Negotiations stage of RFP evaluation process

No. 19/003 – September 10, 2019

Background: 

On August 23, 2019 CEO informed the City of Ottawa of our industry’s concerns with the Indemnification clause, and other clauses related to standard of care for Consultants, within its RFP for a Solid Waste Master Plan (RFP No. 19419-91843-P01). The City promptly responded to CEO offering to issue an Addendum permitting respondents to propose amendments to the City’s General Terms and Conditions for consideration during the Negotiations stage of the evaluation process.

Currently, the City is reviewing the in-depth comments and feedback provided by CEO member firms. CEO appreciates the City’s flexibility and willingness to negotiate important conditions such as those within this RFP.

CEO’s Position:

CEO has highlighted the following issues of concern in the identified clauses:  

  • 5.2. Indemnification

It is CEO’s position that this clause compromised the Professional Liability insurance coverage that CEO member firms are required to carry. The clause as presently written compromises CEO members’ ability to obtain appropriate coverage. CEO proposed that the City amend its current indemnification clause to reflect negligence-based indemnification.

  • 2.2.4. Conduct of Work

Section 2.2.4 under Conduct of Work required that the Consultant’s work “…be free from any defect in manufacture, material and workmanship”. CEO noted that this provision created an unattainable standard of perfection for Consultants to achieve. Further, CEO proposed that the City strike the “warranty” provision in this clause. CEO informed the City that Professional Liability policies expressly exclude warranties for professional services as their inclusion creates an unrealistic and unachievable standard. 

  • 2.22.1. Staff and Methods

Section 2.22.1 under Staff and Methods required Consultants to “perform the Work to a professional standard in accordance with current “best practices”. CEO informed the City that the term “current best practices” is relative, subjective, vague and should be altered to read as “current industry standard practices” to accurately capture the professional standard to which Consultants are accountable.

  • 7.0. Quality Control of Services and Deliverables

It is CEO’s position that Section 7.0 Quality Control of Services and Deliverables also elevated a Consultant’s standard of care by requiring “high quality deliverables”. CEO recommended that the City removes the term “high”. Further, CEO also held the position that the “the expectation is that all deliverables, including drafts, are to be free of errors, contradictions and spelling mistakes” is broad and a potential risk for undue liability. CEO recommended that this provision be qualified by negligence.

Conclusion:

Members who have bid on Request for Proposal No. 19419-91843-P01- Solid Waste Master Plan should be aware that the City will be open to negotiations at the evaluation stage of this bid document. CEO encourages member firms to refer to the commentary above when negotiating with the City of Ottawa and continues to recommend a thorough review of all RFP and contract documents by member firms for their projects, even in instances where there are multiple projects with the same client.   

Should you have any questions about this bulletin, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF ADR CHAMBERS INC. AS AUTHORIZED NOMINATING AUTHORITY (ANA) TO ADMINISTER ADJUDICATION REGIME UNDER ONTARIO’S CONSTRUCTION ACT

No. 19/004 – August 1, 2019

ISSUE

On July 18th 2019, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced the appointment of ADR Chambers Inc. to act as the Authorized Nominating Authority (ANA or the “Authority”) to administer Ontario’s adjudication regime under the Construction Act. The Authority will oversee the adjudication process for construction disputes, including the training and qualification of adjudicators. This appointment brings Ontario one step closer to the full implementation of the Act. This is expected to take place on October 1, 2019 with the proclamation of the regulations enabling the new prompt payment and adjudication regimes.

ADR Chambers Inc. delivers alternative dispute resolution services across a broad range of sectors and industries. Based on the provisions of the Construction Act, the Authority will be responsible for, among other things:

  • Creating a website to enable parties to learn about adjudication and access services
  • Providing a public registry of adjudicators
  • Developing and overseeing training programs for adjudicators
  • Qualifying individuals who meet the prescribed requirements as adjudicators
  • Maintaining a fee schedule, a code of conduct, and a complaints procedure
  • If requested by the parties, appointing an adjudicator to a dispute from a roster which it will maintain
  • Publishing educational materials regarding the adjudication process and an annual report


The Authority will operate independently of government and will be self-funded. Preparations are currently underway for regular operations and an adjudication website is being developed that will include information about the Authority’s process for qualifying as an adjudicator.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR CEO MEMBERS

The long-awaited appointment of the ANA clears the way for the government to proceed with its proclamation of regulations to bring in to force Ontario’s prompt payment and adjudication regimes on October 1, 2019. However, with just two months remaining before this deadline, much work remains to be done.

Before the first adjudication can take place the ANA must first establish, publish and recruit adjudicator candidates from qualifications criteria. The intake process and architecture needs to be created and operationalized, facilitating their selection, training and certification. Only once this is in place and properly functioning can a functional and accountable roster of available adjudicators be made available to the public. Supporting this is the need for an enforceable code of conduct and oversight process.

Last, but certainly not least, the ANA must develop fees for adjudication services. Much speculation remains about what adjudication fees will be and how they will be established. Certainly, the spirit of the law is a motivated by the principle of dispute resolution addressed in real time, reasonably, as projects continue. The emphasis is on avoiding the lengthy and costly process of going to court. With that in mind, general consensus among industry stakeholders is that adjudicators will operate under a reasonable daily fee. The question that remains is what that fee will be and what process will be used to establish that fee. It is not unreasonable for Ontario’s infrastructure sector to expect the ANA to hold meaningful public consultations on how that fee will be set.

A lot remains to be achieved in a short span of time. While adjudication notices are not expected to start flowing immediately following the October 1st implementation date of the new regime, it is not unreasonable for the infrastructure sector to expect that this system would be in place and functional in time for the enabling regulations to come in to force. CEO is continuing to actively pursue information on this issue and where possible shape the creation and implementation of as efficient and effective an alternative dispute resolution system as possible.

CONCLUSION

Should you have any questions about this bulletin, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected]

 

ADVISORY TO MEMBERS: UNITED COUNTIES OF PRESCOTT RUSSELL RFP CONTAIN PROBLEMATIC TERMS AND CONDITIONS

No. 19/004 – August 29, 2019

Issue:

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult their insurance and legal counsel before submitting project proposals to the United Counties of Prescott Russell. CEO recently proposed amendments for Prescott Russell’s Request for Proposal No. PW2019-25 to improve Section A. Information for Bidders, Section 15. Liability Insurance, Section B. General Conditions, Section 13. Representations, Warranties and Conditions, and Section C. Project Information and Terms of Reference, Section 6. Health and Safety and Section 8. Liquidated Damages/Penalties. Prescott Russell acknowledged CEO’s comments but has not modified its terms and conditions. Consequently, member firms considering future RFP submissions are advised that some terms and conditions will be very difficult, if not impossible, to adequately insure through our industry’s insurance providers.

CEO Position:

CEO strongly believes that having fair, insurable agreements attracts more positive interest from the consulting engineering industry and leads to better project outcomes for clients.  

The provisions in Prescott Russell’s RFP creates six significant problems for CEO members:

  • Section A. Information for Bidders, Section 15. Liability Insurance contains several insurance extensions that are unreasonable to require from Consultants.


The requested Commercial General Liability insurance extensions under Sub-Section I include the “Removal or weakening of support of any property, building, or land, whether such support is natural or otherwise”, “use of explosives for blasting”, and “vibration from pile driving, or caisson work…”. CEO noted that it is unreasonable to require Consultants to obtain extensions that are intended and only available to contractors who have exposure to these particular risks. These provisions are not typically found in a Consultant’s Commercial General Liability policy, and CEO requested that they be removed.   

  • Section 15, Sub-Section III regarding Professional Liability Insurance states that “…the Corporation shall be added as an additional Insured…”.


In this context, the Corporation (also known as Prescott Russell) would be considered a third party, and a Consultant’s professional liability policy will not cover third parties, as such CEO requested that this provision should be removed.

  • Section 15, Sub-Section g. of the clause includes “fines” as an item for which the Consultant must indemnify the United Counties. 


A Consultant’s Professional Liability insurance will not provide insurance for broad and undefined items such as “fines”. CEO recommended that this term be removed.

  • Section B. General Conditions, Section 13. Representations, Warranties and Conditions creates an obligation for the Consultant’s work to “…be free of defects in workmanship and materials…”.


This requirement goes beyond a Consultant’s reasonable standard of care. The language used and the inclusion of “Warranties” in the title of the clause imply an unattainable standard of perfection for the Consultant to achieve. Further, the clause inappropriately required that the Consultant’s services must be performed in a “professional and worker like manner by personnel”. CEO noted that this statement is highly subjective and as such it is not reasonable to require Consultants be contractually obligated to such a condition. CEO recommended that Prescott Russell replace its clause with language that appropriately captured the Consultant’s Standard of Care.

  • Section C. Project Information and Terms of Reference, Section 6. Health and Safety contains provisions that do not apply to Consultants.


CEO supports Work Place Health and Safety however, it is our firm belief that these responsibilities should be assumed by the appropriate party as stipulated by current statute.  Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act states that such responsibilities are to be assumed by the party exercising care and control over the project. It also states that no party can contract out of or contractually assume these responsibilities.  CEO has proposed that the United Counties replace its current Health and Safety clause.

  • Section 8. Liquidated Damages/Penalties subjects Consultants to undue penalties for unreasonable damages.


CEO informed Prescott Russell that liquidated damages are an inappropriate instrument to be applied to professional services. By not linking these particular damages to a Consultant’s negligence, Consultants could be subject to undue and uninsured penalties for unreasonable damages. This clause is uninsurable, creates punitive measures for delays and was recommended to be removed.

Conclusion:

CEO encourages members to make project decisions on a case-by-case basis, having considered the merits of individual assignments.  Consult with your insurance and legal counsel before accepting any questionable agreement terms; and should you experience difficulty, contact CEO and make use of our contract Rapid Response Service.  CEO staff will work with you to assess the problem and where possible develop an industry position addressing your concerns that we will use to advocate on your behalf to try and achieve necessary change.

Should you have any questions about this advisory, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or (416) 620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison at [email protected] or (416) 620-1400 ext. 226.

 

Communiqué to Members: York Region issues Addendum with Record of Engineer amendments to RFP

No. 19/002 – June 11, 2019

Issue Background: 

CEO is pleased to announce that York Region has made an amendment to RFP No. P-19-99- Site Coordination and Inspection Services for Highway 27 CPR Bridge Replacement and Road Widening from Martin Grove Road to Rutherford Road based on recommendations proposed by our Rapid Response Team.

On May 30, 2019 CEO brought to the Region’s attention our industry’s concerns with the Record of Engineer clause. The Region promptly responded providing an extension on the RFP’s closing date to allow for a review of the issue and our proposed solution. On June 6th, the Region published an Addendum incorporating our proposed amendments, fully addressing CEO’s concerns. CEO appreciates the Region’s prompt action.  

York Region’s Amendments:

On June 6th, York Region’s Director, Procurement Office, Jerry Paglia informed CEO that the following clause under Section 6.3.4 would be replaced:

Record of Engineer

The Site Coordinator shall provide written and sealed confirmation that the Construction Project has been completed in accordance with the Project Plans.

CEO highlighted the following concerns with the clause:

  • The use of an engineer’s seal is governed by Professional Engineers Ontario under the Professional Engineers Act. CEO explained that a client request for a document to be sealed is not sufficient reason for doing so. It is the nature of the work and the nature of the document that determines whether the seal must be used.

  • CEO noted that even with a full-time inspector on site, it is not possible for Consultants to see every element of a Construction phase. Additionally, the language appeared to create a guarantee of services and work which is outside of the care and control of Consultants.

  • CEO also pointed out to the Region that the requirement, as originally worded, transferred a considerable amount of liability to Consultants and was inconsistent with the purpose of a Quality Assurance inspection.  The implied guarantee would compromise a Consultant’s professional liability coverage and therefore represented an uninsurable risk.

In accordance with CEO’s recommendations, the Region replaced the language in the RFP as follows:

Record of Engineer

 The Record of Engineer shall be a Professional Engineer who shall, upon completion of construction, provide written and signed confirmation that the Construction Project has been completed in general conformance with the Project Plans and approved amendments.

Municipalities like York Region that have actively worked with the industry to achieve mutually beneficial terms are catalysts for positive change in a market that is becoming increasingly challenging to navigate. CEO’s efforts to develop balanced and reasonable professional services agreements becomes most effective when working with productive actors, such as York Region. CEO and its member firms appreciate the steps taken by York Region to address our concerns and improve this RFP.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this communiqué or this particular RFP please contact David Zurawel, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 222 or via email [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

Bulletin: Town of Collingwood Request for Proposal No. FIN 2019-019P

No. 19/002 – April 24, 2019

Issue:

CEO is bringing to members attention the Town of Collingwood’s Request for Proposal No. FIN 2019-019P- Engineering Services to complete an Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment for the Expansion of the R.A. Barker Water Treatment Plant. While this RFP has closed, CEO’s Rapid Response service has brought to the Town’s attention some particular issues of concern.

Background:

In its letter issued to the Town on April 10th, 2019, CEO highlighted some concern with Section 37. Injunctive and Other Relief and Section 45. Supplier Indemnity within the RFP.

In their response, Town staff informed CEO that this specific bid document is a non-binding negotiable RFP which allows for a period of negotiation prior to award of the contract. During negotiations, the highest ranked bidder can negotiate and discuss the clauses of concern.

CEO’s Position:

CEO has highlighted the following issues of concern in the identified clauses:

Section 37. Injunctive and Other Relief

It is CEO’s position that the requirement for the Consultant to abide by the Town’s ability to arbitrarily “obtain” injunctive relief without any proof of damage is unreasonable and unacceptable. CEO requested that this clause be amended to state that “…the Town is entitled to seek injunctive relief…” upon the basis of proven damage.

Section 45. Supplier Indemnity

It is CEO’s position that the broad nature of this clause creates a challenge to the professional liability insurance coverage that CEO member firms are required to carry.

The current clause includes a list of indemnified parties including “independent contractors” who, in many circumstances, may not be under the control of the Consultant. In addition, the term “or otherwise in connection with, the Contract” creates a vaguely defined liability that could include parties that are not under the Consultant’s control or responsibility. CEO recommended that the Town omits both of the aforementioned terms in order to accurately capture the parties of whom Consultants are responsible over as per their insurance policies.

The clause also required Consultants to “…indemnify and hold harmless the Indemnified Parties for any incidental, indirect, special or consequential damages…”. CEO informed the Town that damages such as these, including consequential damages, very often cannot be accurately quantified, and are disproportionate to the liability of the Consultant.

CEO proposed that the Town replace its current indemnification provisions with the clause found in the current version of the MEA/CEO Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services.

Conclusion:

Members who have bid on RFP No. FIN 2019-019P- Engineering Services to complete an Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment for the Expansion of the R.A. Barker Water Treatment Plant should be aware that the Town will be open to negotiations going forward on this specific bid document. CEO encourages members to refer to the commentary above when negotiating with the Town of Collingwood and continues to advise all members to thoroughly review all RFP and contract documents for their projects, even in instances where there are multiple projects with the same client.

Should you have any questions about this bulletin, our Rapid Response Service or any other industry issue, please contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416.620.1400 ext. 222 or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

Communique: Municipality of Chatham-Kent amends its standard RFP document based on CEO’s recommendations

No. 19/001 – January 25th, 2019

Issue Background:  

CEO is pleased to announce that the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has revised their standard Request for Proposals document based on CEO’s recommendations.

CEO, supported by its Rapid Response Team, wrote to the Municipality on November 8th, 2018 detailing our concerns and subsequently issued an advisory to members on January 21st, 2019. The Municipality responded to CEO on January 22nd, 2019 advising that they have reviewed and updated their standard RFP document to incorporate our recommended amendments. CEO appreciates the Municipality’s prompt action.   

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s Revisions:

On January 22nd, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s Solicitor, David Taylor, wrote that the Municipality has removed specific CGL (Commercial General Liability) terms, revised language regarding lapsing insurance policies, and modified the previous indemnity wording in their standard RFP contract, as per CEO’s recommendations.

The Municipality updated its standard RFP document to specifically address CEO’s following concerns:

  • Section 6.8.1, Sub-Section b., included a detailed list of specific items for which the Municipality is requiring the Consultant to provide insurance.

 

  • Section 6.8.4 of the clause stated “The policies shall be endorsed to provide that the policy or policies will not be altered, cancelled or allowed to lapse” however, insurers will not provide notice of policies that are altered or allowed to lapse.

  • The obligations imposed by Section 6.9 Indemnification further compromised professional liability insurance coverage.

 

Municipalities such as Chatham-Kent that actively work with the industry to achieve mutually beneficial terms are catalysts for change in a market that is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. CEO’s efforts to develop balanced and reasonable professional services agreements becomes most effective when working with productive actors, such as the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this communiqué or this particular RFP please contact David Zurawel, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 222 or via email [email protected] or Catherine Morrison, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected].

 

Bulletin: Fall Economic State

On Thursday November 15th, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli rose in the Legislature to deliver the Ontario PC government’s first Fall Economic Statement (FES). This highly anticipated event is second only to the provincial budget in terms of the attention paid to the Minister and the Ministry of Finance every year. The budget and the FES are the two pivotal points to providing a window into the province’s finances and how funding decisions are often made.

Read more.

 

BULLETIN TO MEMBERS: Ontario’s new “Government for the People” takes shape - Doug Ford Sworn In as Ontario’s 26th Premier - Unveils New Cabinet

Issue: Doug Ford, Ontario’s 26th Premier, was sworn in along with his cabinet at Queen’s Park today by Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

Consisting of 21 ministers, 7 women and 14 men, the Ford cabinet is 25% smaller than the 28 member executive council of Kathleen Wynne.  The new cabinet reflects a good cross section of Ontario, representing urban and rural constituencies from all regions of the province.

Read more.

 

ADVISORY: Infrastructure Ontario Real Estate Vendor of Record Renewal – RFP No. 18-013 Indemnification Terms and Conditions

ISSUE: Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult with their insurance partners and legal counsel before submitting an application to Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) Request for Proposals RFP No. 18-013: Vendor of Record (VoR) for Engineering (Civil; Mechanical; Electrical; Structural) and Technical (Environmental and Building Sciences) Services Annual Refresh.
Members need to be aware that enrollment in the VoR involves two different sets of indemnification terms and conditions. This raises problems for member’s ability to obtain adequate professional liability insurance for assignments that will come from being on this roster.

The first set of terms and conditions are part of the Master Agreement between the Agency and the “Qualified Engineer”.

Read more.

 

Advisory: City of Hamilton Indemnification Clause

Issue: Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult their insurance and legal counsel before submitting project proposals to the City of Hamilton, specifically with regards to their standard indemnification clause.   CEO has discussed the issue of indemnification in the past through a number of meetings with procurement, risk management and legal staff at the City with some acknowledgement on their side that they would entertain some modifications to the clause. 

Recently through our Rapid Response Service, we enquired about the indemnification clause for RFP No. C3-10-17 – Consultant Required for Twenty Road East and Upper Red Hill Valley Parkway Extensions Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Phases 3 and 4 – Section 37. Indemnification.  We were informed by the City that they will not be amending the referenced clause.  City staff indicated that “Future considerations may (City emphasis) be made at a later date to amend this clause in some way …”.  CEO is notifying member firms considering submitting proposals to the City of Hamilton to ensure that they  carefully review the RFP documents for this clause and to beadvised that Section 37. Indemnification is very problematic for our industry insurance providers to fully insure. 

CEO Position: CEO is of the strong opinion that fair and insurable agreements attract greater and more positive interest from the consulting engineering industry and result in better project results for clients. The clause in this RFP creates four substantial problems for consultants. 

   1. Imposes an obligation for the consultant to defend the client. 

Professional liability insurance carriers will not defend an entity other than the insured engineering firm.

   2. Creates an expectation that the consultant will assume “fines”, “penalties” and other sanctions. 

Consultant professional liability insurance policies serve to cover compensatory damages arising from the consultant’s negligence; this does not include fines, penalties and fees etc.

    3. Demands that “damages (including indirect, special, remote, and/or consequential damages)” be assumed by the consultant. 

 This is not reasonable as such damages cannot be accurately quantified and are often disproportionate to the liability of the consultant, if they are at all attributable.  Due to these factors professional liability insurance coverage may not apply.

    4. Requires coverage for questionable parties, namely “affiliates”, a term more appropriately applied to commercial entities, and “representatives”, an undefined term.

It is CEO’s position that for a consultant to be held accountable under any agreement, sound negligence-based criteria must exist.  Our members’ professional liability policies exclude claims arising out of liability assumed under contract unless the liability would have existed in the absence of the contract, e.g. negligence.  Acceptance of liability beyond that required by law is the acceptance of liability beyond that for which members are insured. 

We remind members that our recommended industry standard indemnification clause, as developed with MEA, can be found in the current version of the MEA/CEO/Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services, 2017 that is located on our website here.

Read more.

 

Advisory: Norfolk County RFP No. PW-E-17-78 – Inter-Urban Water Supply – Section 4.3 Indemnity

ISSUE: Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is advising members to use caution and consult their insurance and legal counsel before submitting project proposals to Norfolk County. Despite making efforts to engage county officials to amend the indemnity clause in the above referenced RFP, staff have issued CEO a blunt refusal. Member firms considering submitting responses to the County’s call for proposals for RFP No. PW-E-17-78 are advised that Section 4.3 - Indemnity is uninsurable through our industry’s insurance providers.

CEO POSITION: CEO strongly believes that having fair, insurable agreements attracts more positive interest from the consulting engineering industry and leads to better project outcomes for clients. The clause in this RFP creates three significant problems for our members.

The clause: 1. Imposes an obligation for the consultant to provide coverage for questionable parties, namely “…agents and other representatives…”. As these are undefined terms, such individuals are not subject to any sort of indemnification by the engineering firm’s insurance.

2. Creates an obligation for the consultant to assume costs including “expenses (including legal, expert and consultants fees…” and other sanctions. Members’ professional liability insurance policies serve only to cover compensatory damages arising from the consultant’s negligence; this does not include fines, penalties and fees etc.

3. Requires that the consultant assume “demands … in any way based upon, occasioned by or attributable to anything done or omitted to be done by the Proponent, … or otherwise in connection with, the Contract. The Proponent further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Indemnified Parties for any incidental, indirect, special or consequential damages, or any loss of use, revenue or profit, by any person, entity or organization, including, without limitation, Norfolk County, claimed or resulting from such Claims. The obligations contained in this paragraph shall survive the termination or expiry of the Contract”. Such obligations are not reasonable as they are overly broad, not limited to negligence and expressly include consequential damages. Such damages cannot be accurately quantified and are often disproportionate to the liability of the consultant, if they are at all attributable. Due to these factors, our members’ professional liability insurance coverage would not apply.

Click here to read more.

 

Bulletin: Ontario Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act Update

Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, passed Third Reading in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. The legislation introduces significant amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Acts and Labour Relations Act, and limited amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Most of the amendments come into force on January 1, 2018.

When Bill 148 was first introduced in June 2017, Sherrard Kuzz LLP prepared a comprehensive Executive Summary including an analysis of the practical implications for Ontario workplaces, used as a resource by industry associations and employer advocacy groups such as CEO and its member firms.

Sherrard Kuzz LLP is now in the process of updating the Executive Summary. In the interim, this briefing note summarizes all of the key amendments to the Employment Standards Act, Labour Relations Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. You can download the briefing note, here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact David Zurawel, CEO’s Director of Government and Stakeholder Relations at 416-620-1400 ext 222 or [email protected].

 

Bulletin: Important MEA - CEO Standard Agreement Insurance Language Update

CEO is informing members that on the advice of our insurance and contract specialist partners some language in the current 2017 version of the MEA/CEO Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services needs to be changed.

Please make sure that in your project agreements that the language in the introductory paragraph of Section 1.11 Insurance (Page 6 of 19) reads as follows:

“The Client will accept the insurance coverage amount specified in this clause section (a) OR (b), or whichever is applicable to the claim or as specified in the RFP as the aggregate limit of liability of the Engineer for Clients damages.”

To ensure appropriate insurance coverage, be sure to attach supplementary conditions to your agreement reflecting this modified language.

CEO is working with MEA to update the standard agreement to reflect this necessary change as soon as possible.

Should you have any questions about this please do not hesitate to contact David Zurawel at [email protected] or 416-620-1400 ext. 222.

 

Bulletin: CEO’s rapid response service model to deal with problematic contracts and procurement practices

CEO’s Business Risk Committee has established a Rapid Response Subcommittee to provide a rapid response service for Members encountering problematic client contracts and procurement practices. The subcommittee and its mandate of challenging and correcting problematic client terms and conditions are a key pillar of the association’s strategic plan.

To achieve the objectives laid out in CEO’s strategic plan, the Rapid Response Subcommittee provides analysis and advice on procurement issues through a new quick response service model.

The service model is driven by subcommittee volunteers and sets out to achieve solutions that are mutually beneficial to our Members and their Clients in efficient and timely manner.

CEO is completing its analysis of this new service model, which evaluates all associated tasks and activities. During the beta test period, CEO focused on the management and provision of services required to achieve their quick response times.

CEO has achieved success having reached mutually beneficial RFP amendments; our initial evaluation finds that CEO will be working to continue to improve our system of gathering information for analytical, administrative and informing Members of industry contractual issues.

By conducting a thorough assessment of the issues or risks identified during beta testing, CEO is convinced that we have a viable process. We will work collaboratively with Members to ensure the Rapid Response Subcommittee and its processes serve to address the most important issues confronting Member’s businesses today.

For inquiries about the Rapid Response Service Model, please contact David Zurawel at (416) 620-1400 Ext.222 | [email protected]

 

 

Bulletin: AG’s new Construction Act to amend Construction Lien Act, address prompt payment, introduce dispute resolution regime

Issue:

Ontario Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, has introduced Bill 142, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, better known as the Construction Act. The bill, if passed in to law, will modernize the Construction Lien Act, address the need for promptness of payment, and introduce an adjudication-based dispute resolution system for Ontario’s construction sector.

Background:

The product of a 2-year, comprehensive independent public consultation process, the draft Act is informed by the report “Striking the Balance” authored by Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel. Making 101 recommendations to the province, the report was the product of advice from more than 60 stakeholder groups, presenting more than 90 specific issues over the course of 30 consultation meetings. Ministry of the Attorney General officials have adopted the vast majority of the recommendations as a package for change, omitting just three.

Consulting Engineers of Ontario has played an active role in the independent review and development of this draft bill and is pleased all of its issues have been represented in the draft legislation, namely:

  • Requiring the mandatory release of holdback monies
  • Extending the lien rights period to 60 days from 45
  • Enabling the partial release of holdback funds through phased projects, and
  • The use of letters of credit as acceptable financial instruments with which to hold holdback funds

 Conclusion:

This legislation proposes to make extensive changes to Ontario’s construction sector, impacting both public and private projects. The federal government and other provinces are closely watching Ontario. What gets passed into law here will most certainly influence these other jurisdictions.

In the near future, CEO will be providing an analysis of the draft bill and how it will impact members. The Ministry of the Attorney General is preparing a consolidated version of the draft legislation that will highlight all of the changes made to the existing Construction Lien Act. In the meantime, Bill 142 is important reading for anyone practicing in the construction sector. A pdf copy of the bill is available here.

The provincial legislature has risen the summer recess therefore, action on the bill will not begin until MPPs return for the fall legislative session on September 11, 2017.

Should you have any questions about the draft bill or the proposed changes you can contact David Zurawel at 416-620-1400 ext. 222 or [email protected]

 

 

Bulletin: Ontario introduces Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

Ontario has introduced legislation that will fundamentally reform the province’s existing Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA).

The proposed legislation, Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, contains broad ranging recommendations from the 419-page Changing Workplaces Review Final Report published in May 2017.

The Changing Workplaces Review, initiated by Labour Minister Kevin Flynn in 2015, is the most significant review of the ESA and LRA the Government of Ontario has undertaken in decades. During the review process, two phases of consultation took place to provide the general public and stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on how the LRA and ESA could be amended to better address today’s workplace issues.

The final Report contains 173 recommendations including raising the minimum wage, ensuring part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers, introducing paid sick days for every worker and including members of the architectural and land surveying profession in the LRA.

Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 was introduced and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance Economic Affairs on June 1.

Sherrard Kuzz LLP, one of Canada’s leading employment and labour law firms, is reviewing the legislation and its recommendations and will be developing an analysis.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact David Zurawel, CEO’s Director of Government and Stakeholder Relations at 416-620-1400 ext 222 or [email protected].

The full Changing Workplaces Review Report is available here. The pdf copy of the bill is available here.

For more information on the amendments proposed in Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, click here to download the backgrounder.

 

 

Communique: The Regional Municipality of York issues Addendum for RFP P-17-69 in response to CEO’s Letter

Issue:

The Regional Municipality of York issued RFP P-17-69 on May 18, 2017 for Consulting Services for the inspection and appraisal of Bridges, large Culverts, Structural retaining walls, and large Overhead sign supports owned by the Regional Municipality of York.

Under the provision of the Region of York’s agreement, the Consultant is responsible to the owner for delay and/or under-performance of the Project. 

The Liquidated Damages clause (Schedule B, VII), presents problems for member firms obtaining professional liability insurance coverage members’ firms.When liquidated damages clause is not related to negligence in the performance of professional services (not meeting the standard of care), this becomes non-insurable because professional liability insurance policies only provide coverage for damages caused by the negligence of the insured Consultant. Most professional liability policies specifically exclude coverage for liquidated damages.

If the clause is not modified to address negligence-based performance (not meeting the standard of care), this clause is non-insurable. Professional liability insurance policies only provide coverage for damages caused by the negligence of the insured Consultant. Most professional liability policies specifically exclude coverage for liquidated damages.

CEO’s position:  

1. The Courts have consistently held that a liquidated damages provision cannot be used to impose a penalty; therefore, if the amount set for liquidated damages is a penalty imposed for breach of contract, or a coercive measure for deterring a potential breach, liquidated damages may not be enforceable. For the liquidated damages provision to be enforceable, it must provide some clear or readily ascertainable amount accruing because of a breach of contract.

2. Also, damages must be exclusive. If the contract provides the Owner with an alternate way to measure or seek damages, the liquidated damages may not be enforceable.

Schedule F Contract Terms and Conditions, 9.1 Damages and Section 12 – Right to Set-Off and Holdbacks, both include provisions for the Region to remedy delayed services; therefore, Schedule B VII. Liquidated Damages would be nonexclusive.

The Regional Municipality of York’s Addendum:

On May 30th, CEO issued a formal letter to The Regional Municipality of York on behalf of our Members, regarding RFP P-17-69 Consulting Services for the inspection and appraisal, in particular, the Liquidated Damages clause.

On June 1st, 2017, the Region of York responded to CEO’s communication detailing the fact the addendum had been issued, removing the LD clause as requested.

This RFP is set to close on June 8th, 2017.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this communique or this particular RFP please contact Chaslene Pilgrim, (416) 620.1400 Ext. 226 or via email [email protected]

Click here to download in the PDF format.

 

Bulletin: Infrastructure Ontario Renewal of Real Estate Vendor of Record System

Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) Real Estate Division has issued a renewal of its Vendor of Record (VOR) for engineering and technical services.

The system will create a new pre-qualified list of firms that will be eligible to provide services to the agency and its project management service providers (PMSPs). Firms interested in qualifying for the VOR have the opportunity to submit a request for proposal via Biddingo until June 8, 2017. Those firms selected to be on the VOR list will be eligible to be invited to submit responses to agency bid call documents for specific assignments. All firms currently on the agency’s VOR must apply to be included on the VOR list.

The agency will be extending its current VOR Master Agreement terms and conditions beyond the July 1, 2017 expiration date. This is being done to provide an opportunity to evaluate terms and conditions of the new Master Agreement. Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) has been assured by agency staff that the terms and conditions of the Master Agreement will be made available for its review and feedback. The agency has also assured CEO that earlier concerns over language contained in the current Master Agreement empowering it to summarily terminate contracts with vendors on the suspicion of fraudulent practices have been properly addressed.

Click here to read the details of the Renewed VOR.

 

Bulletin: Ontario’s balanced budget increases infrastructure investments $5.9 billion year-over-year: Long-term pledges now total $190 billion over 13 years

Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered Ontario’s first balanced budget since 2008. The fiscal plan entitled, “A Stronger, Healthier Ontario” details an ambitious strategy for social investment going forward. Proclaiming that “together we have built up Ontario to compete and succeed in the global economy …” the Finance Minister stated that “now we believe it is time to consider what comes next”. The key pillars of the budget are health care, education, supporting families and creating opporitunities and infrastructure.

“Balancing this year’s budget is a much anticipated and significant achievement for Ontario”, said Barry Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer of Consulting Engineers of Ontario. “Planning core investments without the burden of a deficit should substantially improve the government’s ability to deliver on its commitments”. This budget builds on the government’s commitments to the people of Ontario,” Steinberg remarked.

The proposed budget pledges to expand Ontario’s investments in infrastructure by $30 billion to $190 billion over 13 years, starting in 2014-15 and represents a $5.966 billion increase over last year. Emphasis focuses on four key prioirities: public transit ($56 billion); highways and transportation ($26 billion); grants to hospitals (approx. $20 billion); and, education (approx. $16 billion). Also central to infrastructure are continued commitments to municipalities through increased gas tax funding, the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, Connecting Links program and the Trillium Trust. “CEO has consistently been a strong supporter of separate, dedicated funds for infrastructure investment. They are the most effective tools for providing value to taxpayers”, said Steinberg. “The province’s continued commitment to ensure the full funding of the Trillium Trust is important. It is an imperative tool for eliminating Ontario's core infrastructure deficit. However, the government needs to provide more detail on how the Trust works. I don’t think anyone in our industry really knows how it factors in to proper project planning, prioritization and execution”, remarked Steinberg.

Today’s budget does not include any new taxes. The total government spend for the coming year is projected to be $141.1billion, including 11.6 billion in interest charges on the provincial net debt which now totals almost $302 billion, representing 37.8% of GDP.

 

Bulletin: Construction Lien Act Review Updates

Consulting Engineers of Ontario is pleased to report that all member issues it submitted to the expert review of the Act will be included in the reform legislation, expected to be tabled with the legislature late this spring.

The expert report of the review included 100 recommendations to modernize the lien and holdback process, introduce a prompt payment system and create an adjudicative dispute resolution process. In reviewing this feedback, the Attorney General has stated that the government’s reform legislation will address all of the review reports recommendations except for those proposing: a pilot project for trust accounts in the public sector; providing for a single property identifier number for common elements of condominiums; and, removing the provision that permits liens to expire on a lot-by-lot basis.

CEO is continuing to communicate with the Attorney General and his staff.  Work continues to develop the finer details of the prompt payment system, including the definition of what constitutes a “proper invoice”, the trigger to start the payment clock.  Also important is the ongoing discussion of freedom of contract, given that this is something consultants to not currently have.

CEO is preparing for a busy summer dealing with this issue as extensive public consultations are expected on the bill.  We will keep you up-to-date with details as they become available.

 

Bulletin: Province expected to finalize updated asset management regulation

CEO is expecting the government to soon finalize the update to its asset management regulation.  To qualify for provincial funding for public infrastructure projects municipalities must have submitted an asset management plan with the Ministries of Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs.

CEO, as part of a small group of sector stakeholders, has been working with the province for more than a year to help guide the update of the regulation.  Having already held one round of public consultations, advice has been gathered on how to improve the plans by requiring a standard format and more uniform data collection and reporting.

More information on this issue will be provided as it becomes available.

 

MEA-CEO Standard Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) and Municipal Engineers Association (MEA) announced the finalization of a Standard Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services. The standard agreement aims at helping Ontario’s 444 municipalities practice a fair procurement process by outlining equitable, consistent terms and conditions for both clients and consulting engineers.

“The standard agreement is built on the principles of partnership and fairness. It symbolizes a collaborative approach to creating a favourable business environment for both clients and consulting engineers,” said Barry Steinberg, P.Eng, Chief Executive Officer of Consulting Engineers of Ontario.

The consulting engineering sector is one of few professional service providers that allow clients to prescribe the terms and conditions under which they offer their services. In response, the two associations have been working closely together to review and update the 2006 version of the MEA/CEO Agreement for Engineering Services so that municipalities can use a contract that is up-to-date with the present business landscape.

“This standard agreement will enable municipalities to be more efficient in doing business with consulting engineers. The template will allow smaller municipalities particularly to save on the significant time and cost spent on creating a contract,” said Reg Russwurm P.Eng, President of the Municipal Engineers Association.

“It has been a lengthy, complex process but also a very rewarding one,” said Geoff Pound, P.Eng, Chair of CEO’s Municipal Engineers Association Liaison Committee. “The revised standard agreement is now in line with current municipal engineering business practices. This will be a benefit to both municipalities and the consulting engineering industry.”

Download: 2016 MEA-CEO Standard Client/Engineer Agreement for Professional Consulting Services

 

CEO Welcomes Passage of Long-Term Infrastructure Legislation

Consulting Engineers of Ontario applauds this afternoon’s passage of Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act.

“We have been working with government on this legislation for quite some time and we are pleased to see it pass the legislature,” said Barry Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer of Consulting Engineers of Ontario.

Today’s passage of the legislation sees Ontario join Québec as the only other provincial jurisdiction requiring its government to have a long-term infrastructure plan.  The province will have three years to table its first plan from the date the legislation receives royal assent, and then must renew the plan at least once every five years. 

The government intends to use its new strategic plan to align its infrastructure investments with its economic development and job creation priorities, while emphasizing design and planning.  “Professional Engineers play an integral role in bringing the government’s infrastructure plans to life, we are very pleased this legislation recognizes our public duty,” Steinberg remarked. “The draft Bill was of great concern to us; it made no mention of the role of engineers while prescribing a specific role for architects,” said Steinberg.  “Given the stipulations of the Professional Engineers Act, this had to change; the legislation had to maintain balance.  We are happy with the solution we developed with Minister Duguid’s staff and officials.”  

Also heavily emphasized in the Bill is the role of asset management plans.  “CEO has consistently supported infrastructure investment as a result of sound planning.  By requiring these plans and mandating they be consistent in their form, content and timing, government will be able to make sound, and accurate decisions to prioritize projects and manage their full lifecycle cost.  This is what is necessary to provide innovation, value and public safety for Ontarians,” said Steinberg.

Click here to download Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act

 

Wynne Government's budget emphasizes transit and transportation infrastructure

Finance Minister Charles Sousa this afternoon delivered the Wynne government’s economic blueprint for Ontario.  With a 10-year, $130 billion infrastructure commitment, the “Building Ontario Up” budget makes transit and transportation infrastructure a key element determining Ontario’s future economic success.  Also playing an important role in the government’s four part plan are: investing in people’s talents and skills; creating a dynamic and innovative environment for business; and, building a secure retirement system. 

“Where last year’s budget focused on investment commitments today’s plan is all about implementing of those commitments,” said Barry Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer of Consulting Engineers of Ontario.  “Our communities are being stifled by the lack of quality core infrastructure,” Steinberg said.  “We have gridlock on our roads and highways, our transit systems don’t have the capacity to serve as an alternative to promote mobility, and our water and wastewater systems are suffering the neglect of deferred maintenance.  There is an urgent need for today’s announced commitments, especially the Moving Ontario Forward investment of $31.5 billion over the next 10 years,” said Steinberg.

Recommendations from the Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets are providing an additional $2.6 billion to the Moving Ontario Fund over the next 10 years for a total of $31.5 billion.  “What is most important about this investment is its allocation to the Trillium Trust,” said Steinberg.  “Separate, dedicated funds for infrastructure investment are the most effective tools for providing value to taxpayers as they provide government a secure means to eliminate Ontario's core infrastructure deficit.”

Today’s budget details a total government spend for the coming year of $131.9 billion, leaving a deficit of $8.5 billion.  The government is maintaining its pledge to bring its finances back to balance by 2018.  Ontario’s total accumulated debt will reach $298.9 billion next year.