Peel to begin charging businesses that fail to respond properly to COVID-19

 

Peel Public Health has issued a class order today to help enforce COVID-19 requirements within workplaces — with a warning that any businesses that don’t comply may pay a price.

Starting at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, November 16, business owners and operators who fail to take necessary action to prevent or stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace will now face a fine of $5,000 per day under the Section 22 Order.

“It’s time for employers who choose not to pay employees when they are sick to put people over profit,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health. “The cost of COVID-19 spreading across our community is far greater than the price of a few sick days.”

The Section 22 Order, issued under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandates employers to follow legislation, implement employee protections, and cooperate with outbreak investigations when outbreaks occur in their workplaces.

When an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, has symptoms of it, or has been exposed to someone with the disease, the employer must:

  • Not allow the ill employee to enter the workplace and instruct the person to remain in isolation unless they need urgent medical attention.
  • Implement all COVID-19 prevention measures outlined in provincial regulations and guidance, including but not limited to screening, distancing, masks, hand hygiene and infection prevention and control.
  • Immediately notify Peel Public Health and the Ministry of Labour, Skills and Development if there are two or more COVID-19 positive employees.
  • Cooperate and comply with all directives from Peel Public Health, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour, Skills and Development to protect other employees from spread.

While the order stops short of forcing employers to provide employees paid sick leave, Peel Health strongly recommends that employers provide sick leave benefits and job protections to ensure employees who are affected by COVID-19 do the right thing and self-isolate.

More information can be found at Peel Region’s website.

According to the Region, Peel Public Health has investigated over 1,500 potential COVID-19 exposures in workplaces since the beginning of April. Peel has had 116 workplace outbreaks from September 1 to November 13, with eight currently under investigation.

Of the 116 outbreaks, close to three in five (58.6%) have been in one of four sectors: manufacturing/industrial, food processing, distribution and transportation.

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