The Government of Ontario is launching a series of “zero-tolerance” workplace safety inspections in COVID-19 hotspots.
The province announced the new campaign on April 8, with inspections set to begin on April 9.
Enforcement officers will be checking to see if COVID-19 health and safety requirements, including physical distancing, symptom screening, and mask-wearing, are being followed.
Warehouses, food processors, and manufacturers in the regions of Peel and Halton will be targeted first.
As well, on April 10, officers will be visiting retailers that are permitted to be open under the provincial Stay-at-Home orders, including big-box stores.
Officers will be focused on enforcing COVID-19 safety requirements during Saturday’s inspections, the province said.
Individuals who are found violating the safety measures can be fined $750, while businesses can face $1,000 tickets.
If a violation is more serious, though, charges may be laid under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
If convicted, an individual can be fined up to $100,000, while the directors and officers of a corporation can be fined up to $500,000. Both could also face up to one year in jail.
The maximum fine a corporation can face upon conviction is $10 million, the province notes.
In addition to enforcing COVID-19 safety requirements during Saturday’s inspections, officers will also help retailers understand the new requirements of the Stay-at-Home order, including that they must only sell essential items.
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“With more contagious variants identified in many parts of the province, it has never been more important that businesses have the appropriate health and safety protocols in place to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development.
Increased inspections will be carried out across the province, including within Ontario’s construction sector.
This will include expanded rapid testing and the same zero-tolerance approach to enforcement of COVID-19 safety requirements.
“We will have zero tolerance for those bad actors who break safety requirements as it puts the lives of workers and the public at risk,” McNaughton said.
“Our officers will not hesitate to issue tickets to those not following the rules.”