59 per cent compliance rate found during safety blitz at Ontario big-box stores
TORONTO -- Another weekend safety blitz at big-box stores across Ontario has led to 20 tickets thus far, resulting in a 59 per cent compliance rate.
“There’s no excuses at this point in the game,” Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said on Sunday afternoon. “Every business knows what to do.”
“This is not good enough.”
This weekend’s blitz, which saw 222 stores in Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo be inspected on Saturday, marks the third campaign of its kind.
Seven tickets were handed out at stores in both Toronto and Hamilton and six were handed out at Kitchener-Waterloo stores. A compliance rate of 79.5 per cent was found in Toronto, 41.3 per cent in Hamilton and 56.8 per cent in Kitchener.
“Half of those (tickets) were against the corporations themselves,” McNaughton said. “The rest were amongst owners of the businesses, as well as supervisors and managers.”
“I can tell you some of the infractions we found included the sanitation and cleanliness of places like lunchrooms and washrooms for example. Still issues with capacity limits in some places, as well as masking protocols not being followed in some locations.”
Officials are expected to inspect another 200 stores on Sunday and the rest of the data from this weekend’s blitz is expected to be released on Monday.
The first of these weekend safety campaigns was announced by the provincial government on Jan. 14 amid strict COVID-19 lockdown measures being implemented in Ontario.
The blitz sends dozens of Ministry of Labour inspectors and local bylaw enforcement officers out to large retailers across Ontario that are allowed to remain open at this time.
Individuals found to be violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for as long as one year, while corporations can be fined up to $1.5 million per charge.
Thus far, the three weekend campaigns have led to 112 tickets being issued after officials inspected more than 1,000 stores.
These weekend campaigns were announced as Premier Doug Ford faced criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for on-site shopping while smaller businesses are restricted to curbside pickup or online sales during the province’s stay-at-home order.
He has said these efforts will help crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers.