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Public Health plans inspections at local businesses

As part of the Workplace Enforcement Campaign announced by the province, provincial and local public health inspectors will make their first stops visiting a variety of businesses in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties “with an aim to further protect workers and customers at all essential businesses.” Additional campaigns are being planned for 10 other communities including Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough, Toronto and Leeds Grenville Lanark.

Results from COVID-19 workplace safety campaigns held in December in seven communities across the province showed that approximately 67 per cent of workplaces were in compliance with the requirements. The most common issues were not wearing masks, not having a safety plan and not screening people in the workplace.

Over this past weekend a team of approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, visited 240 big-box stores across the GTHA. Enforcement officials found 76 contraventions, and that 69 per cent of these businesses were in compliance with public health requirements.

Businesses being inspected include gas stations, corner convenience stores, grocery stores, discount and big box stores, warehousing and manufacturing facilities, farm operations ( focusing on locations that employ temporary foreign workers) and food establishments providing takeout.

“Hastings Prince Edward Public Health recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and challenging time for Ontario’s workers and businesses,” noted Emily Tubbs, of HPEPH in a media release. “That is why HPEPH is working with the province to support community safety campaigns intended to educate businesses and workers on public health measures required under the Reopening Ontario Act and Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Enhancing Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures in the Provincewide Shutdown.”

Corporations can be now 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. All individuals, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under the acts.

If a violation is more serious, a person can be 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. The maximum fine for a corporation on conviction of an offence is up to $10,000,000.

Provincial guidance and resources to help businesses operate more safely during COVID-19 are available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety and the Ontario.ca COVID-19 response framework page.

In addition, businesses can access the following resources to help raise awareness of COVID safety in the workplace:
– COVID-19 worker and employee screening tool
– Developing a COVID-19 workplace safety plan
– Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace
– Guidance for employers during breaks
– Break poster
– Lunch poster
– Keep it to yourself poster
– Workplace Personal Protective Equipment Supplier Directory

Local business owners/operators with questions about current regulations are invited to visit the COVID-19 Resources for Workplaces web page, complete an online form, or call 1-800-267-2803 ext. 677.

Filed Under: Local News

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