The Ontario government is launching education and enforcement campaigns in targeted areas of the province o ensure businesses are following the COVID-19 health guidelines necessary to keep establishments safe for staff and the public.
Over 200 provincial offence officers will carry out the campaigns in seven communities including Eastern Ontario, York Region, Ottawa and Toronto.
None are planned for the Niagara communities yet, however at a Niagara Region Council meeting Wednesday, councillors voted to step up compliance in the Region’s towns and cities. They also voted to publish names of people and businesses that are fined or charged for violating medical orders issued by the Region’s medical officer. It has not been announced when the stepped enforcement will begin. The new actions are not connected to the province’s strategy.
With rising COVID-19 cases across the province, Ontario Premier Doug Ford explain the province’s plans.
“We’re deploying an army of inspectors to help support our businesses through education and feedback on their safety plans,” said Ford.
So far, three education plans have been deployed and officers have visited 1,000 workplaces. No tickets have been issued and all violations were resolved with compliance assistance.
During these visits, officers will give owners guidance on how to comply with public health requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. The length of campaigns will vary anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
If a person or business is not complying with the current orders, they could receive a fine of up to $750. If prosecuted without issuing a ticket and convicted, an individual could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000.
Any person convicted of an offence under the current order could also receive a term of up to one year in prison and corporations convicted could receive a fine of up to $10,000,000.
“For the bad actors who are intentionally breaking the rules, I’m providing a fair warning. We’ll find you and slap you with a big fine. It’s that simple,” said Ford.
Certain businesses in the Yellow, Orange, Control, and Lockdown tier of the COVID response framework are required to make a COVID-19 safety plan based on public health and workplace safety guidelines and make it available for review.
These businesses 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