Ontario Allows Some Schools to Return to In-Person Learning As Province Strengthen COVID-19 Enforcement Campaigns

Workplace enforcement blitz also beginning at service sector businesses, farms with temporary foreign workers

The provincial government said schools in seven public health units in southern Ontario will reopen for in-person learning on Monday while the rest of the schools will continue to teach students online.

Those seven public health units are Grey Bruce; Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington; Leeds, Grenville and Lanark; Peterborough; and Renfrew County.

Schools in all other southern Ontario public health units will continue remote learning.

Meanwhile, the province said in a news release up to 300 inspectors will be involved in a new COVID-19 enforcement blitz, that will include inspections at farming operations that rely on temporary foreign workers. The first campaign is to be held in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, with 10 others planned so far in Toronto, Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough and Leeds Grenville Lanark.

The announcement comes after Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted 240 big-box stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the weekend and found about 69 per cent of locations were in compliance with public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said groups found 76 contraventions of the rules, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing orders to improve. Twenty-five tickets were issued, including to Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations.

But the minister said after months of life in the pandemic, the compliance rates should be higher.

“This is truly disappointing,” he said. “These corporations must do better. Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know if they won’t operate safely in this emergency, you won’t operate at all.”

Under the provincial rules, corporations can face $1,000 fines and workers can face fines of $750 for not following public health measures.

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.

Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can’t be completed remotely.

Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups.

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