SPECIAL REPORT ― The provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec have moved to close all non-essential businesses, while carving out exceptions that affect the home improvement industry. In Ontario, “[h]ardware stores and stores that provide hardware products necessary to the essential operations of residences and businesses” are exempt as a class from closure. In Quebec, while malls have closed, “megastores outside shopping centres that offer grocery, drugstore or hardware services” are unaffected.
Hardlines had urged Ontario Premier Doug Ford to make this move. Inspired by the similar appeal last week of the North American Hardware Association (which Hardlines represents in Canada) to state governors, Hardlines President Michael McLarney requested the essential designation for the industry. The letter, sent to three levels of government, reads in part: “In many communities, the local hardware store represents the only outlet where consumers have access to essential supplies for cleaning, disinfecting, repairing and maintaining their residences.” (Click here to read the full letter.)
Both provinces will allow at least some construction trades to continue operations. In Ontario, the exemption is in general terms: construction “in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors” is deemed essential. In Quebec, it is limited to emergency work. Ontario, but not Quebec, has also included forestry products in its list.