Coronavirus concerns lead to the cancellation of construction-related gatherings


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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

The coronavirus that is sweeping the globe, pushing governments, businesses, and schools to initiate social-distancing measures, is also impacting the construction industry which has seen the cancellation of several major events.

The implications of the virus on the overall economy and the construction sector in particular will likely be immense, as medical services face overwhelming challenges and the rest of the economy grinds to a halt as the virus spreads.

The Canadian Construction Association (CAA) announced it was cancelling its annual conference, originally scheduled for March 15-18 in San Diego, California. Organizers of the 2020 Canadian Mechanical & Plumbing Exposition (CMPX) have also decided to postpone the show originally planned for March 25-27 at the Toronto Conference Centre.  On a more local level, Merkley Supply Ltd. cancelled its annual MSL show in Ottawa.

The CCA Board of Directors held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, and made the decision to cancel the conference.

“The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of cancelling the events, with the overriding objective to protect … delegates, staff and the association from risks associated with the coronavirus. This was not an easy decision and we are all disappointed that we will not be able to get together and celebrate the industry as usual this year,” wrote John Bockstael, Chair of the CCA, in a message sent to all subscribers of the CCA’s updates.

“As you can appreciate, we are working through the communications and logistics now. CCA activities including the Zoo tour and golf tournament will be cancelled by the CCA.”

He continued that registration will be cancelled and reimbursed. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, disappointment and issues with your travel plans that this has caused.”

In an emailed message, Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH) discussed how fast-moving developments have forced the postponement of the exposition.

“It’s amazing how fast the world moves; just 10 days ago we were confident that the 2020 CMPX Show would run as expected. Even earlier this week we were re-assured when the Ontario Government made a public announcement (March 10) that events should continue as planned in the (Ontario). Roll the clock ahead 48 hours and it’s a different world,” he said.

“Sports events have been cancelled, flights have been disrupted, schools closed, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and the Canadian Government announced a comprehensive response package to combat and mitigate the impacts of the outbreak in Canada.”

He continued that even if the risks are low, prudence calls the postponement of the 2020 CMPX event.

“There are many details that remain to work out, so further announcements will be made in due course. For now, we wanted to get this message out to ensure all exhibitors are able to make appropriate plans, since the planned start of the event is only 12 days away.  We will communicate pertinent details as they become available. We request your patience and support as we work through these issues,” said Suppa.

Concerns over the virus has caused the cancellation of a number of large-audience events, including major sports league games. Both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have suspended games, and soccer matches in Europe are being played without fans in attendance.

As well, on March 12, the Ontario government announced that all publicly funded schools would remain closed for two weeks after spring break.


  1. I just read the list for essential services, and I am saddened to read that it looks like all construction is still in place….section 28 Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;
    is it just me or does this read as nothing to stop??
    are we the same as the United States in forgetting about one of the largest sectors of employees?

    I hope something better will be coming.

  2. I honestly cannot wait until this pandemic is over.
    I’m really glad that vaccines are finally being rolled out to the masses.
    These lockdowns have got to end. Too many small businesses are suffering.
    It would be devasting if another lockdown is issued or extended after May 20th.
    The government can’t make up their minds while the general public is losing their minds.


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