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A three-day flash of inspection at Niagara companies last week found barely half of it comply with Ontario’s COVID-19 public safety laws

“Honestly, that’s not good enough,” said Monte McNaughton, Secretary of State for Labor, Education and Skills Development, in an interview on Friday

This campaign, which involved 22 provincial crime officials, differs from a campaign previously run by Niagara area officials, which resulted in numerous fines and warnings

McNaughton’s criticism came just before the late Friday afternoon announcement that Niagara would be relocated from Orange to the more restrictive Red Zone from Monday due to rising COVID cases

In a three-day campaign that began Monday, provincial crime officials in Niagara conducted what was called an “education-focused” corporate security flash

Of the 267 workplaces visited, only 54 percent complied with the Ontario Reopening Act, which provides safety measures during the pandemic

By comparison, a similar campaign in Hamilton earlier this month found a 73 percent match, with stores in Kingston 71 percent compliant and Ottawa 69 percent

“My message to all companies is that you must keep moving forward,” said McNaughton. “I understand these are very, very difficult times

Of the violations found, he said, “The most serious is that many companies still do not pre-screen workers who come to the place of business, for example, take their temperature checks and fill out a questionnaire”

The inspectors also verified that the companies were able to establish safe social distancing, adequate personal protective equipment for staff and adequate safety plans

Of the 267 visits, 98 were in restaurants where 55 violations were found Another 153 visits were in retail stores with 65 violations found

A spokesman for McNaughton’s Department said no information was yet available on how many fines or warnings had been issued

While Niagara was being pushed into the red zone, Hamilton was moved to the gray or restricted level

McNaughton said there was no reason for companies to fail to comply with public health regulations nine months after the pandemic

“I want companies to know we are going online for free in Ontarioca / covidsafety more than 200 resources to use – posters, leaflets to help them implement a COVID-19 health and safety plan”

The visits by provincial officials followed similar inspections previously conducted by law enforcement officers from the Niagara area

In two months that ended in late November, they audited 251 companies and imposed 32 fines of $ 750 each


McNaughton said the purpose of the inspections is not to keep a “big stick” but to train owners and managers

“It’s supposed to help keep them open, number one and to protect the health and safety of workers,” he said

“Everyone has to do more today than ever before the numbers are going in the wrong direction and we are seeing the fellowship expand in small towns that we have not seen before””

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