‘Our government is building the largest team of inspectors in Ontario's history to keep workplaces safe’
Ontario has hired more than 100 new occupational health and safety inspectors to support the province’s business inspection campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the province continues to reopen, we need businesses of all sizes to do better as there are no shortcuts to safety,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. “With a new total of more than 500 inspectors, our government is building the largest team of inspectors in Ontario's history to educate business owners, enforce public health measures and keep workplaces safe now, and for many years to come.”
The new inspectors are scheduled to be fully trained and deployed by July 1, 2021. They have begun a condensed training program, and will begin making field visits with a mentor within five weeks of their start date.
Mandatory qualifications to be hired as an occupational health and safety inspector in Ontario include:
- valid Class G Ontario Driver’s Licence
- for designated bilingual positions, French language oral communication skills
- ability to travel extensively, respond to after-hour calls and work evenings and weekends as part of regularly scheduled work
- oral and written proficiency in English
Ontario's provincial offences officers have conducted more than 13,374 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021, according to the government. They have issued 9,480 orders and 373 tickets, and stopped unsafe work 15 times.
Last week, 110 provincial offences officers in Eastern Ontario, Durham Region, and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph visited 1,081 workplaces, the majority of which were small businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
Ontario also carried out workplace inspections in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham back in January. Ministry inspectors as well as local bylaw and police officers also visited big box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham that same month.
In the coming weeks, officers will return to businesses that have already been visited in Eastern Ontario, Durham Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, shifting toward enforcing COVID-19 safety requirements, and issuing orders and tickets, if necessary.
Additional two-stage campaigns, focusing on small businesses, are scheduled to take place in York Region on March 5 and 6, Windsor Essex on March 6 and Waterloo Region from March 11 to 16.
Corporations can be fined $1,000 for failing to comply with the orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Individuals, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under the Acts.
For more serious offences, a person can be charged under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act. If convicted, the court can impose fines as high as $100,000 for individuals, and up to $500,000 for directors and officers of a corporation. Both could also receive terms of imprisonment of up to one year.
“Our business community and especially our small business owners are very appreciative of these collaborative workplace safety campaigns with the Durham Region Health Department,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “Throughout the pandemic, we have been actively working with our business community to educate owners and operators about their responsibilities to ensure that all public health measures are in place and rigorously followed to protect public safety. When workers and employers learn how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces, our entire community benefits.”