COVID-19 ‘education and enforcement’ effort will visit Eastern Ontario businesses

EASTERN ONTARIO — An “education and enforcement” campaign targeting local businesses for COVID-19 compliance is about to roll out in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region, the local health authority has confirmed.

Multi-ministry teams, working in coordination with the EOHU, plan to visit local businesses from December 3rd to 5th to “conduct assessments and promote COVID-19 health and safety requirements,” says the EOHU, which describes the effort as helping businesses “stay safe and stay open by ensuring that they are taking the necessary steps to protect employees, consumers and the public from COVID-19.” 

During the visits, officers will provide business owners with assessments and guidance on how to operate safely during the pandemic and comply with public health requirements in the Reopening Ontario Act. Under the province’s new COVID-19 Response Framework, certain businesses and establishments are required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan for their workplace. Officers will be asking employers to produce their safety plans and will provide feedback and direction on them. 

The aim of the campaign is to ensure that workplaces have the resources and information they need to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, says the EOHU, “and to help businesses take any corrective steps needed to operate safely. While the focus is on education, officers can exercise their enforcement discretion if they find significant non-compliance.”

The provincial campaign will complement the EOHU’s local efforts that have been ongoing since the start of the pandemic.

“EOHU public health staff, in collaboration with local enforcement partners, having been working diligently with businesses in our region to help ensure they can operate safely and protect their workers and customers,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “We know that many businesses have made enormous efforts, but some still need assistance. We’re pleased that the provincial campaign coming in early December will provide added support.”

The provincial initiative has also recently visited the Peel and London-Middlesex regions. It found the most common areas of non-compliance have been improper mask use, lack of screening, and improper sanitization. More information on the campaigns can be found on the government of Ontario’s website: Ontario Launches Workplace Education and Enforcement Campaigns

New enforcement tool for Section 22 Orders 

The campaign comes as Medical Officers of Health like Dr. Roumeliotis now have a new enforcement measure at their disposal: Police officers are now empowered to issue tickets for breaches of a Medical Officer’s local “Section 22” orders. A recent amendment to Ontario Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act effected the change. 

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