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Ontario to add 98 workplace inspectors to enforce pandemic safety measures

Thursday, September 24, 2020 @ 1:54 PM | By John Schofield

Ontario is hiring an additional 98 health and safety inspectors to help enforce COVID-19 protections at workplaces across the province.

The hiring blitz is expected to bring the total staff of active inspectors to 507 from 409, according to a Sept. 23 government news release. The government said it will be the largest team of health and safety inspectors in Ontario’s history.

“By adding more inspectors to our team,” Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said in the release, “we can respond faster to situations as they arise and help make sure that every office, plant, store and job site in this province is safe, during COVID-19 and beyond.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of our workers,” he added.

The announcement comes as four Ontario teachers’ unions and the province are engaged in arguments before the Ontario Labour Relations Board over the adequacy of the government’s health and safety measures for schools.

According to the news release, the inspectors will have broad powers to inspect any workplace and ensure they have COVID-19 protections in place; investigate any potentially hazardous situation, critical injury, fatality and work refusal; order compliance with the legislation; stop unsafe work from being performed; and recommend and initiate prosecutions.

The full-year cost for the new inspectors will be $11.6 million, notes the news release. Recruitment of the inspectors will begin in early October 2020 and applicants will have one month to apply.

McNaughton recently tested negative for COVID-19 after dining with new federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who is currently self-isolating due to a positive test.

Inspectors are provincial offences officers designated under the Provincial Offences Act and are appointed as inspectors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

According to the news release, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills conducted 19,411 inspections and investigations related to COVID-19 between March 11 and Sept. 8, 2020, and issued 16,520 orders while on those visits.

Workers who believe they are working in unsafe conditions should report their concerns to Ontario’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008, said the news release.

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