Ontario sending inspectors to check on reopening small businesses
The Ontario government will focus new inspection and education efforts on small businesses reopening after stay-at-home orders are lifted, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says.
An information hotline, online training and inspector visits will help businesses that may not have a large human resources department to guide them in best practices, he said.
“More small shops have opened in many communities right across Ontario,” McNaughton said Friday. “These merchants and shop keepers are the life blood of our main streets … We know whether they sell groceries or cut hair, they want to keep their staff and loyal customers safe.”
The ministry is taking a “customer service” approach to working with these businesses, rolling out small shops supports next week, he said.
Dedicated health and safety educational teams of 60 inspection officers will visit more than 1,200 workplaces with special attention to businesses reopening in grey, red and orange zones, he said.
“Initially, officers will educate on safety requirements,” McNaughton said. “Then during following up visits, officers may begin taking a firmer approach to ensure everyone is getting it right.”
Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), commended an education-first approach.
The CFIB said in a statement Friday that 63% of small business owners say they would be prepared to consider rapid COVID-19 testing if it will keep their doors open.
The Doug Ford government has already reopened much of the province under a tweaked colour-coded COVID-19 framework that allows non-essential retail businesses to welcome in-store customers even in a grey-lockdown zone.
Under the stay-at-home orders, many small business owners were frustrated by provincial regulations that kept their doors locked while big box outlets like Walmart and Costco were able to sell non-essential items.
Ontario will provide for free a webinar on health and safety protocols, an online 30-minute course on infection control and prevention, and a dedicated hotline to answer questions at 1-888-444-3659, he said.
WSIB premiums rebates of $1,000 for small businesses will be offered to cover the cost of enhanced safety, he said.
“One of the things our inspectors will be educating these small shops and merchants across Main Streets in Ontario will be on how they can keep workers safe in lunchrooms, in breakrooms, if they’re in vehicles going from one job site to another or delivering parcels,” McNaughton said.
“We’re looking at the entire aspect of a daily person’s work.”