Provincial inspectors issue 24 fines following big box blitz in Ottawa
OTTAWA -- Provincial inspectors handed out two dozen fines to local businesses during a COVID-19 safety blitz this past weekend.
Inspectors visited 114 workplaces in the city during the weekend blitz, aimed at ensuring essential businesses that can continue to operate during the provincewide shutdown are following public health guidelines.
"We’re going into all types of big box stores in Ottawa and area this weekend, including the Costco's, the Walmart's, the big grocery store chains," said Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton, during an interview with CTV News Ottawa Friday.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour said Monday that 24 tickets were given to businesses in Ottawa. The most common infractions were for inadequate screening, exceeding capacity limits, and lacking a COVID-19 safety plan.
Sixteen inspector's orders were also issued, instructing businesses to make changes in a certain timeframe.
Ottawa Bylaw assisted in the blitz. The City says officers handed out 10 tickets, nine of which were for mask violations and one of which was for inadequate signage of COVID-19 rules.
Two verbal warnings were given to businesses for not having enough hand sanitizer at entrances.
Neither the Ontario government nor Ottawa Bylaw specified which locations were ticketed.
Customers of some stores in Ottawa who spoke to CTV News on the weekend said they noticed some longer lines to get inside compared to previous visits.
According to a government press release sent Saturday, corporations can be now 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. Everyone in Ontario, including employees and patrons, can also be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders under the acts.
If a violation is more serious, a person can be charged with failing to comply with an order under the acts. 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. The maximum fine for a corporation on conviction of an offence is up to $10,000,000.
The Ministry can also charge businesses up to $1.5 million under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA). There is one year from the date of the offense to lay charges under OSHA.