About 100 Windsor-Essex businesses to be visited in province's weekend COVID-19 enforcement blitz

·2 min read

About 100 businesses in Windsor-Essex will be visited by provincial offences officers as part of a COVID-19 enforcement blitz this weekend.

In partnership with the local health unit and city bylaw department, 16 officers from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will be visiting the region on Saturday and Sunday to ensure that big box stores, retail stores, bars and restaurants are abiding by provincial COVID-19 rules.

Ontario's Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton told CBC News on Friday that the event is mostly to educate businesses in the region, though they will hand out charges if necessary.

"This isn't about the government carrying a big stick, it's actually about working with businesses to keep people safe," McNaughton said. "I come from a small business background in southwestern Ontario — our family had a home hardware store — I know the challenges that businesses are facing. It's unprecedented times. This is about protecting the health and wellbeing of the people."

During these visits, he said that officers will educate businesses and make sure the Occupational Health and Safety Act is being followed.

"Ultimately the goal is to protect workers, but also to keep businesses open," McNaughton said. "It really is to reinforce that Businesses need to have a health and safety plan to prevent COVID-19 from coming into the workplace, ensuring that social distancing is happening and that masks are being worn."

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Fines to be handed out, if necessary

While he said this is to help businesses, McNaughton said they will also use discretion.

"There are some bad actors out there and we will issue orders and fines if necessary," he said, adding that he understands Windsor-Essex has jumped from the province's 'green-prevent' category to the 'red-control' category in only a matter of weeks.

The businesses being visited are ones that have been listed by local public health officials and the city, McNaughton said.

Since the Thanksgiving weekend, McNaughton said more than 200 officers have attended different regions in the province.

Of these, he said they have found that 86 per cent of businesses are in compliance with COVID-19 rules. The officers have handed out orders and charges, though McNaughton said he didn't know the exact number.