TORONTO -- The Ontario government started another COVID-19 inspection blitz on Wednesday, this time targeting distribution centres in Peel Region.

Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton made the announcement at Queen’s Park on Wednesday afternoon, saying that inspectors will also be looking at break rooms and back offices.

“Just to be clear, we’ve been visiting these businesses all along,” McNaughton added. “We’ve carried out more than 430 visits in this sector already.”

“We know these workers have been especially hard hit. Businesses in this sector also employ a high percentage of temporary workers. We want to make sure the virus isn’t traveling with them back home to their loved ones.”

The minister said that 218 tickets have been issued to businesses found to be violating COVID-19 rules and regulations since the beginning of January, but that the rate of compliancy among big box stores has increased.

McNaughton said that over the past three weeks, “the compliance rate among big box stores increased by almost 19 per cent.”

“Compliance among other retailers, such as convenience stores, dollar stores and gas stations increased by seven per cent. That means we saw more people in masks, more screening of workers and customers and more businesses with COVID-19 safety plans.”

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.

McNaughton said that over the past year, 63 Ontario businesses have been shut down for not complying with COVID-19 regulations.