Labour ministry charges Catholic teacher for allegedly failing to wear mask at work

·2 min read

TORONTO — A teacher in Toronto has been charged under Ontario's workplace health and safety act after allegedly failing to wear a mandatory mask or personal protective equipment at work, the Ministry of Labour said Wednesday.

The teacher, who is with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, could face a penalty of up to $1,000, the ministry said. 

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said the case is “deeply concerning.”

“Just abide by the rules that are out there, they’re common sense. If your employer is requiring PPE and a mask, in this case, wear it,” he told reporters.

McNaughton said there have been 22,000 orders issued by the labour ministry after 25,000 investigations during the pandemic.

He also said the ministry has shut down 37 workplaces since the beginning of the pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford said he received a message from a student's mother about the teacher who was charged.

"Talk about angry, oh my goodness," said Ford. "Not angry at us, but angry that the teacher would not follow proper protocols."

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said there has to be compliance with health protocols, given that the province paid for every teacher to take health and safety training. 

Lecce said it's important that the province take action in such circumstances. 

"In this instance, it's obviously totally unacceptable," he said.

The labour ministry said health inspectors stopped by St. Charles Catholic School on Friday and charged the teacher, but didn't issue any orders to the facility at large.

The school board said the teacher is currently on leave while investigations are underway.

"Staff have been trained on best practices and protocols to ensure the safety of everyone in a school setting," the school board said.

The teacher is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 2, according to the ministry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press