opp covid enforcement

Provincial enforcement officers to crack down on restaurants and other Ontario workplaces

Following an enforcement blitz of big box stores last week, the Ontario government is expanding its workplace inspection campaign and cracking down on a variety of businesses to ensure they're complying with public health measures. 

According to a news release from the province published Wednesday, starting today, more than 300 officers will be visiting workplaces throughout Ontario that are currently allowed to operate under the shutdown.

These establishments include retail stores, big-box stores, restaurants offering takeout, essential service-sector establishments (such as gas stations), and farming operations. 

"We know, from inspecting over 23,000 workplaces during 34,000 field visits, that the vast majority of Ontario businesses are following COVID-19 requirements to protect the health and safety of their workers," said Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton in the release. 

"However, if we find any employers are putting the safety of workers and customers at risk, we will not hesitate to take immediate action." 

This past weekend, 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, visited 240 big-box stores across the GTHA.

Enforcement officials found 76 violations, and they discovered that 69 per cent of these businesses were in compliance with public health requirements.

Inspectors will also be visiting farming operations across the province starting today, with a focus on locations that employ temporary foreign workers to ensure that health and safety laws are followed and that measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The province says thousands of foreign agricultural workers, mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean, are expected to arrive in Ontario under the federally administered Temporary Foreign Worker Programs this growing season.

"Our farmers, agri-food workers, greenhouse operators and food processors are working hard to protect the health and safety of our agri-food workers while continuing to provide us with a steady and reliable food supply," said Minister of Agriculture Ernie Hardeman in the release.

"Since last spring, we have taken several measures to support them, including reinforcing public health protocols, making investments to increase operational capacity and helping to address labour challenges," the release continued.

"Agri-food workplace inspections are part of our continued efforts to raise awareness, prevent and control COVID-19 outbreaks to protect workers' health and safety and maintain our strong food supply."

Corporations caught failing to comply with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act can now be fined $1,000, while individuals, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under these acts.

More serious violations can also result in a person being charged with failing to comply with an order under the acts. If convicted, the court can impose fines as high as $100,000 for individuals, and directors and officers of a corporation can be fined up to $500,000.

Both could also receive terms of imprisonment of up to one year, and the maximum fine for a corporation on conviction of an offence is up to $10,000,000.  

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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