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Summary from CCPPP Conference Call: COVID-19 & the Infrastructure Sector
First Call: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Issues of Concern
Concerns over whether insurance will respond to COVID-19 claims. There are two potential ways to seek insurance coverage for COVID-19: a direct business interruption loss or the civil authority extension. It should be noted that the majority of insurance policies in Canada have exclusions for viruses, infectious diseases etc.
Law Resources/Force Majeure
Law firms across the country are carefully assessing the impact of COVID-19 on business. An issue of broad concern is whether the pandemic constitutes a force majeure event and whether and how the relevant contract clauses will apply.
Impact on Construction Shutdown
Construction in Québec is completely stopped at the moment.
The situation is very different on the West Coast. Construction is considered essential in B.C. so projects are ongoing. There are challenges, however, like getting people out on site and the need for extra health and safety requirements.
The situation in Ontario is uneven with some sites being closed by clients, while others are still ongoing. There is probably a reduction of 30 per cent to 70 per cent in staffing just to keep social distancing measures in place. Many companies are having daily checks with employees to make sure sanitary conditions are being met.
The fallout from all of this on schedule and cost impact are ones the industry is following closely.
The Council is closely monitoring actions being taken by governments across the country at all levels.
Here are some guidelines that may be helpful:
• Canadian Construction Association:
COVID-19 - Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites
• Province of Ontario:
Construction site health and safety during COVID-19
• British Columbia (WorkSafeBC):
Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: A guide for employers
Truckers shipping equipment and supplies to remote work sites need access to washroom facilities and food when moving goods into northern communities.
High-Speed Internet & Bandwidth
This pandemic highlights the need for bandwidth capacity and the need for more accessible and equitable high-speed connections, particularly for residences where people are working from home. In the past, the focus has been on providing these services primarily for anchor tenants in communities, with a shift in everyone working at home this thinking also needs to change.
Financing/Canada Infrastructure Bank
With the potential impact on project financing, is it possible for the Canada Infrastructure Bank to play a helpful role? CCPPP will follow up with the CIB on this issue.
Managing Risk in the Future
At the moment everyone is focused first and foremost on ensuring worker safety and health, however, the focus will shift fairly quickly to getting projects going. In terms of P3s in particular, one of the things we’ll have to deal with as an industry is how to deal with not just the risks around COVID-19 and projects that are currently in market but also down the road dealing with possible future epidemics.
Project activity is slowing. It’s just harder to get things done but there are a number of discussions going on about what it will look like as we come out of the crisis, in particular what governments might do to stimulate activity. The federal government is actively taking a look at projects in the planning stages that could be considered as more shovel ready and potentially included in a stimulus program.
How is the Council Helping?
CCPPP is working with the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) to identify common issues that are at the forefront for our members and to convey these to government in a coordinated way. This joint approach is welcomed by government, particularly by Infrastructure Canada, as it works with other departments on how best to respond to this crisis.
In addition to this weekly conference call, CCPPP has reached out to member CEOs and Country Heads to learn what are the top-of-mind issues for the sector as this pandemic continues to unfold and impact our communities, businesses and workforce. We welcome any additional concerns or thoughts you might have at any time.
Thank you everyone for joining us. Our next call will be at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 9.