Ontario launching big-box store inspection blitz in COVID-19 hotspots

Jan 14 2021, 6:02 pm

Please Note: As of January 14, a Stay at Home order is in effect for all of Ontario. This means you must stay at home and only go out for necessities including getting food, going to work, and getting exercise. Learn more about Ontario’s Stay at Home order here.

The Ontario government is conducting a big-box store inspection blitz starting this weekend to ensure COVID-19 rules are being followed.

On Thursday, the province said this Saturday and Sunday, approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, will be visiting big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York, and Durham.

The blitz will focus on ensuring workers and patrons are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and following health and safety measures.

It’s also important to note that workplace health and safety inspectors will have the authority to ticket supervisors, employees, and patrons who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, temporarily close a premise, and disperse groups of more than five people.

“We know most businesses are operating responsibly and taking the necessary steps to protect their workers and customers, and I want to thank them for their efforts,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in a statement.

“Where we find an employer who has been acting in bad faith, we won’t hesitate to take action by immediately slapping them with a ticket and a fine. There will be real consequences for those who break the rules.”

These efforts build on the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign announced earlier this week, which will focus workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and provide resource materials to employers and workers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work, the provincial release notes.

The campaign targets workplaces with heightened risks that have been identified by using data from local public health units and information reported directly to the province.

Inspectors will focus on workplaces in the following sectors: workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centres, food processing, and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, like grocery stores.

Ministry inspectors will also continue their focused onsite inspections at long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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