Ontario sending inspectors to check on reopening small businesses
TORONTO — Ontario is sending inspectors to visit small businesses reopening this month in an effort to boost compliance with pandemic orders.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says initial visits will focus on education about safety rules and inspectors will take a “firmer approach” on followup visits.
He says small businesses have felt the brunt of the pandemic but many don’t have the resources to quickly adapt to new safety protocols.
Business types included in the initiative that begins next week include retail stores, gyms and personal services in regions reopening in grey, red and orange zones under the provincial restrictions framework.
Inspectors will focus on businesses in Wellington-Dufferin Guelph, Durham and eastern Ontario, where have businesses reopened this week with varying levels of restrictions.
The ministry says a webinar and an information hotline will also be available as business owners adapt to new rules.
The announcement comes as Ontario is set to announce whether it will lift a stay-at-home order and other restrictions for COVID-19 hotspots next week.
The province said earlier this month that it planned to roll back the order and move Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay to its tiered pandemic restrictions system on Tuesday.
But the top doctors for Toronto and Peel have asked for that to be delayed until at least March 9 because of the presence of variant strains of the virus in their communities.
Ontario’s chief medical officer was to provide advice to the government Thursday night based on the latest COVID-19 data.
Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is set to discuss the matter and announce a decision Friday afternoon.
Ford hinted Thursday that the province may grant the request made by Toronto and Peel.