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Ontario hires more labour inspectors, dispenses advice to employers waiting for ‘green light’

Premier says curve is flattening and province is working closely with its health and safety associations to develop best practices


April 30, 2020
By Todd Humber


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People photographing the beautiful Toronto skyline at night. Canada's largest city is still the top tech centre, but smaller regional cities are gaining ground. Photo: Getty

Ontario is boosting the number of labour inspectors as it cracks down on employers not following the rules surrounding COVID-19.

Monte McNaughton, the province’s labour minister, said 58 new inspectors have been hired and are on the job this week.

“Some of the inspections will focus on communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces,” he said, while others will enforce emergency measures such as physical distancing on the job site and ensuring non-essential businesses are closed.

“If you’re not doing a good job of promoting distancing, the inspectors will help you correct that,” he said.

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Employers that don’t do a good job on this front will get fined, he said, pointing out that the inspectors are authorized to hand out $750 tickets.

Things are improving

 Ontario Premier Doug Ford struck a relatively optimistic tone in today’s news conference.

“I know how much people want to get back to work, how much we all want to get back to normal,” he said.

“I hear it. I see it, and I feel it.”

The province is on a path to reopening its economy because the curve is flattening, said Ford. The surge in patients to hospitals has been avoided and there is light at the end of the tunnel, he said.

“I am laser-focused right now on opening things up as quickly as we can, in a safe and measured way,” he said. “We will open up things in phases as it becomes safe to do so, based on health and science.”

There is a process, with clear criteria and targets for reopening, but the trends are all heading in the right direction, said Ford.

Get ready for the ‘green light’

Ontario has created posters for numerous sectors. Here’s a sample of the look and messaging.

Ford said the province has been working closely with its health and safety associations to develop more than 65 sector-specific guidelines as employers wait for the “green light” to open.

That includes a wide range of businesses including:

  • Health care
  • Retail
  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Food processing
  • Agriculture
  • Office workers
  • Transit
  • Transportation and utilities
  • Construction

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to provide updated advice to protect even more sectors of our economy,” said Ford.

McNaughton stressed that the primary focus is keeping people safe, pointing out that “safety is an economic issue. We need to do this right to ensure our reopening, when it comes, works for everyone.”

For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace.