Retailers Show Improvement in Complying with Public Health Guidelines
February 10, 2021
Ontario's provincial offences officers have visited more than 2,308 big-box stores and other essential retail businesses across the province in 2021, and those complying with public health guidelines have increased by almost 19 per cent over three consecutive weeks. To date, 218 tickets have been issued to businesses and individuals during 16 inspection campaigns. Reasons most cited for non-compliance were failure to properly screen staff and workplaces not having COVID-19 workplace safety plans. "We are seeing the positive effect of having boots on the ground, ensuring businesses are following health and safety guidelines to protect their workers and customers from COVID-19," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "Despite this progress, businesses, beware: We will continue with these workplace inspections as they play a key role in helping our province reopen and operate safely." In addition to inspecting retail stores, occupational health and safety inspectors and employment standards officers from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development have launched an inspections blitz in the warehousing and distribution sector in Peel Region, which has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. The warehouse and distribution blitz is focusing on adherence to COVID-19 safety requirements, including physical distancing, screening, masking and the need to have a safety plan. Provincial offences officers from across government, alongside local public health units and by-law departments. are planning future inspection blitzes in the public health regions of Peterborough, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Eastern Ontario. Previous campaigns have been in Toronto, Peel, York, Durham, Niagara, Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo, Windsor, Ottawa, Huron-Perth and Simcoe Muskoka.
To help businesses comply with the public health measures, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has developed more than 200 business guideline documents.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the Ministry of the Solicitor General is continuing to encourage local police services and municipal bylaw enforcement officers to focus on COVID-19-related enforcement.
Corporations can be fined $1,000 for failing to comply with the orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Individuals, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under the acts.
For more serious offences under either the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and/or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, a person can be charged under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act. 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. The maximum fine for a corporation on conviction of an offence is up to $10,000,000.