Ontario discovers 76 violations during safety blitz of big-box stores, expands list of workplaces to be targeted
Signage at a Walmart store is seen on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is expanding its workplace inspection campaign after a weekend blitz of big-box stores found that 76 businesses were violating safety measures.
Starting Wednesday, more than 300 officers will be supporting the expanded blitz, which will now target retail establishments, restaurants providing takeout, essential service-sector establishments, and farming operations.
The Ministry of Labor, Training and Skill Development said Wednesday that inspectors visited 240 big-box stores over the weekend in the Greater Toronto Area and found 76 contraventions.
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton emphasized on Wednesday though that the "vast majority" of Ontario businesses are following COVID-19 regulations.
The government has conducted more than 34,000 workplace safety inspections since the start of the pandemic in March.
Corporations can be fined $1,000 for failing to comply with the orders under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. All individuals, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under the acts.
The government said if a violation is more serious, a person can be charged with failing to comply with an order. If convicted, the court can impose fines as high as $100,000 for individuals, and directors and officers of a corporation can be fined up to $500,000. Both could also receive terms of imprisonment of up to one year.
Meanwhile, York Region shared a list of retailers fined over the last week for violations of Ontario's Reopening Ontario Act, among them major pharmacy and grocery locations.
Retailers are facing $880 individual fines for infractions that include not having a safety plan, inadequate cleaning, improper mask-wearing by employees and failing to post signage about the rules.
Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations are among those ticketed.
Premier Doug Ford, who has 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, vowed last week to crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers.