Ontario announces workplace inspection blitz of big box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York & Durham

15 January 2021

The Ontario government announced today that it was increasing workplace inspections during COVID-19 to ensure businesses are operating safely and protecting workers and patrons.

The announced inspection blitz will begin this weekend (January 16 & 17) and will focus on big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. Ministry inspectors, local bylaw and police officers will ensure that:

  • workers and patrons are wearing masks,
  • workers and patrons are maintaining physical distance; and
  • workers and patrons are following all health and safety measures.

This blitz is part of the province's "Stay Safe All Day" campaign.

Big box retailers that sell groceries are permitted to open during this lockdown, however big box retailers must ensure that they limit the number of persons in the store to 25% of the capacity of the facility.

Workplace health and safety inspectors have the authority to:

  • ticket supervisors, employees and patrons who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements;
  • disperse groups of more than five people; and
  • temporarily close a premise.

Individuals and businesses who are not following the rules can be fined. The set fines are:

  • $750 for not following the rules; and
  • $1,000 for preventing others (including employees or other workers) from following the rules.

Maximum fines can be up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Failure to follow the rules could also result in prosecution or even a year in jail.

Please continue to monitor our website for updates on the new rules and restrictions that apply to your organization. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding compliance requirements or health and safety measures applicable to your organization, the Gowling WLG Employment, Labour & Equalities Group would be pleased to assist. To find out more about our Group, and how to contact a specific lawyer.

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