QUEBEC CITY – Home builders got back to work today after getting the green light from the Quebec government to resume construction activities. The government’s authorization also allows manufacturers of cabinets, flooring, millwork and other businesses in the housing construction supply chain to reopen.
The resumption of home building and allied trades ends a nearly four-week shutdown mandated by the Quebec government as part of its response to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
In a related action, the Quebec government extended the reopening of the housing industry by authorizing resumption of renovation projects, including kitchens and bathrooms, so long as they had been started before the March 24 shutdown.
A major caveat of Quebec’s authorization is that residential construction and remodel projects must be completed by July 31. “This includes construction and renovation work and surveying and building inspection,” according to information added to Quebec’s COVID-19 resources. Another key requirement is that construction firms comply with COVID-19 public health directives to safeguard the health of their employees. These guidelines, developed by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec, include social distancing, personal hygiene and other best practices for mitigating transmission of the virus.
Daniel Drapeau, president and CEO of Miralis, a manufacturer of contemporary kitchens based in St.-Anaclet, said he looked forward to ramping up production. “We’ve already called all of our clients in Quebec to tell them it’s time to restart.” Drapeau said. “We’re reopening slowly but surely with all of the necessary measures of sanitary, health and security rules that we need to follow to protect our team members.” Drapeau said Miralis has additional orders to produce about 100 cabinets a day, representing about 20 percent of the plant’s normal volume.
Francis Roy, president of the Quebec Construction Association, said, “We are all invested in the fight against COVID-19 and we welcome the government’s decision to reopen certain residential construction sites starting April 20. Of course, the priority of our association over the next few days will therefore be to promote the healthy hygiene practices included in this guide.”
Roy added that restarting construction operations will be challenging. “The whole production and supply chain has to start again and this has not been done. Even more so than in the current circumstances, we will have to reorganize the work and they way we do things,” Roy said. “The costs related to the implementation of these measure and the resulting loss of productivity, among others, are at the heart of the concerns of our members, as are the accumulated delays and late payments that deprive construction companies of liquidity which they will need to start their work again.”
Roy pledged that members “who need help can of course count of the ACQ team to support them.”
Reacting to the government’s authorization to restart home construction, CNC Automation, a distributor of industrial woodworking equipment based in St. Zotique is also resuming operations. Andrew Legault, president and CEO of CNC Automation said the company will have about 70 percent of its employees back to work either from home or at the office as of today with the goal of having all employees back to work on April 27 “in one form or another.”
Meanwhile, Canlak, a manufacturer of industrial wood coatings, has operated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “Canlak has had an important role to play since the beginning of the outbreak and has given back to the community by donating N95 masks and manufacturing hand sanitizer for the Quebec Ministry of Health,” said Marie-Sophie Guindon, marketing and communications director for Daveluyville-based company. “We hope that all our clients are safe and healthy and we are very much looking forward to serving once again the home building industry.”
Whereas Ontario and most other Canadian provinces recognized residential construction and wood products manufacturing as essential businesses, Quebec was more restrictive in listing those activities as non-essential. As a result, home construction and wood products manufacturing were effectively shut down between March 25 and April 19.
In addition to residential construction, Quebec is also allowing landscaping and lawn maintenance services, nurseries and automotive repair shops to reopen.
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