Businesses in Peel Region to face $5K fine for failing to prevent spread of COVID-19
TORONTO -- Businesses in Peel Region will now face a $5,000 fine per day if they do not follow health protocols put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In a news release issued Saturday, officials said that the fine will be issued to any business owners or operators who fail to “take necessary action to prevent or stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace” under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
“While most workplaces take great care to protect their employees, some employers continue to disregard the safety of their people and as a result, the Peel community,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Peel Region, said in a statement.
The order mandates that all employers where someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19, has symptoms of the disease or was exposed to it, instruct the person to remain in isolation or seek medical attention.
Peel Public Health and the Ministry of Labour should be notified if there are two or more COVID-19 positive employees, officials said, and employers must cooperate and comply with all directives from Peel Public Health.
The order also requires businesses to implement all COVID-19 prevention measures, including screening physical distancing, the use of masks and hand hygiene.
Officials say that Section 22 does not include mandatory paid sick leave, as public health does not have the power to enact that order.
“However, Peel Health also continues to strongly recommend that employers protect their employees by providing sick leave benefits and job protections,” the news release said. “This would permit employees who are affected by COVID-19 to do the right thing and self-isolate to help stop spread.”
Peel Public Health said they have investigated more than 1,500 potential COVID-19 exposures in workplaces since the beginning of April. At least 116 workplace outbreaks have been declared in the region between Sept. 1 and Nov. 13.
Of those outbreaks, health officials say 58.6 per cent were in one of four sectors—manufacturing/industrial, food processing, distribution and transportation.
An outbreak is defined as two or more cases that have likely been acquired in one area or facility within a two-week period.
There are eight workplace outbreaks currently under investigation, officials said.
The news comes as Peel Region grapples with the second wave of the pandemic. On Saturday, provincial officials reported 497 new infections in the last 24 hours.
Peel is also one of five regions placed in the province’s “red” zone, the most restrictive category in the tier framework short of a full lockdown.