TORONTO — The Ontario government is launching a series of education and enforcement campaigns to ensure businesses across the province are following Covid-19 protocols.
These campaigns will reinforce efforts of police, municipal by-law officers, and public health inspectors to educate businesses and enforce the Covid-19 health and safety requirements. Officers will be asking employers to produce their workplace safety plans.
The campaigns are being carried out in strategic locations, drawing on a team of more than 200 provincial offences officers from across ministries. To date, three education and enforcement campaigns have taken place. Almost 1,000 workplaces have been visited, and no tickets have been issued. All contraventions were resolved with compliance assistance, the premier’s office said in a statement.
Peel region campaign
In Peel Region, where a two-day campaign was carried out from November 6 to 7, 2020, 50 provincial offences officers and six by-law officers visited 330 retail establishments with a focus on supermarkets, big-box stores and shopping malls. More than 82 per cent of businesses were found to be compliant with public health requirements under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (Reopening Ontario Act).
These campaigns are developed in consultation with local health units and support Ontario’s Covid-19 Response Framework and enforcement under the Reopening Ontario Act. The length of the safety campaigns can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on local circumstances.
If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, they could be ticketed with a fine of $750 under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Where prosecuted without issuing a ticket and on conviction, individuals could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000. Any individual convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act could also receive a term of imprisonment of up to one year. The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act is $10,000,000.
Safety plans required
Certain businesses and establishments in the Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown levels are required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and make it available in writing for review. Whether workplaces are currently operating or planning to start up, employers need a plan to put controls in place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Employers can use current public health and workplace health and safety information or guidance to help develop their plan.
Businesses requiring a workplace safety plan include:
Restaurants, bars, and food or drink establishments;
Sports and recreational facilities;
Meeting and event spaces;
Personal care services;
Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments;
Performing arts facilities.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the Ministry of the Solicitor General is continuing to support police services and municipal by-law officers as they work through COVID-19-related enforcement.