Greenhouse Canada

Ontario and Quebec to keep essential agricultural businesses open

March 24, 2020  By Greenhouse Canada

Provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec have both ordered all at-risk workplaces, other than essential services, to shut down by Wednesday of this week.

For Ontario, at-risk workplaces will be ordered to close by 11:59pm on Tuesday March 24th.

According to Ontario’s release, “Essential businesses 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. Essential businesses are being asked to put into place any and all measures to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees on the front-lines.”


As of March 24, 2020 at 11am, the list of essential agricultural services in Ontario is as follows:

Agriculture and food production

  1. Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;
  2. Businesses that support the food supply chain including assembly yards, livestock auctions, food distribution hubs, feed mills, farm equipment suppliers, feed suppliers, food terminals and warehouses, animal slaughter plants and grain elevators;
  3. Business that support the safety of food including animal and plant health and animal welfare;
  4. Businesses that provide veterinary services, and that supply veterinary and animal control medications and related supplies and testing kits;
  5. Businesses that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling;

UPDATEOMAFRA has clarified that ‘crops’ include flowers.

Working from home and teleconferencing are highly recommended where possible.

“While this was a difficult decision, we trust that Ontario’s business leaders will be able to promote safety while carrying out business and protecting jobs,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need. It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free.”

Landscape Ontario has noted that this document can be interpreted broadly. They are actively seeking clarity on behalf of their landscape and nursery members.

Similarly, Quebec has announced the closure of non-essential businesses and services by Wednesday March 25 at 12:01 am. Agricultural businesses deemed essential by Quebec’s provincial government include food production (e.g. agricultural businesses, food processing, beverages, slaughterhouses and vegetable production), agricultural suppliers, asl well as distributors of food, groceries and convenience stores.

UPDATE: According to a release dated March 30, 2020 issued by Quebec Vert, MAPAQ has now changed their ruling and declared ornamental horticulture to be essential in Québec. Last week, when the province’s list of essential services was first announced, ornamental horticulture had been excluded and deemed non-essential. 

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