Over 1,300 workplaces in region inspected

726

No charges laid according to Ministry of Labour

Heather Wright/The Independent

High Park Farms is one of the 30,000 businesses across Ontario which have been inspected after complaints from employees about poor pandemic protocols.

Ministry of Labour officials confirm inspectors have been on site at the Lasalle Line greenhouse four times – the latest on Dec. 9.

But spokesperson Kalem McSween tells The Independent the company has so far not faced any orders from inspectors. The Dec. 9 investigation is ongoing.

Sources tell The Independent workers were concerned about personal protective equipment. At first, it was supplied. Then, sources say, employees were required to purchase cloth masks for themselves. They could purchase one at the greenhouse for a nominal fee. If they didn’t have the cash, sources say, they would be sent home.

McSween says labour inspectors were called to the greenhouse because of anonymous complaint from a worker but found a supply of PPE and hand sanitizer on site and that social distancing measures were in place.

McSween says the investigation is one of 1,379 workplaces that have been visited during COVID-19 related field visits in Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Sarnia and London. No tickets have been issued. No charges have been laid.

The Toronto Star reported Dec. 19 over 7,600 workers have contracted COVID-19 on the job, but only two charges have been laid in nearly 30,000 investigations.

There have been 11 workplace outbreaks in Lambton .

Labour Minister and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP, Monte McNaughton, says the inspectors have the power to lay charges when necessary. He says, for the most part, workers and employers are working together to keep workplaces safe.

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, says workplaces have an inherent danger for COVID-19 because of the close contact involved.

“I think the point here really is that some activities and some settings are just risky and there is only so much you can do to mitigate that risk.”