QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls), Official Opposition NDP critic for Workplace Health and Safety, took Doug Ford to task Monday for not releasing information on which Ontario employers have COVID-19 outbreaks in their facilities.
“Workers in Ontario have the right to know their workplace is safe. Yet this Conservative government will not disclose when or where COVID-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces,” said Gates during question period at the Ontario legislature Monday. “This means if there is a workplace outbreak, workers - and the public - won’t know. It not only puts their health and safety at risk, it increases the risk of community spread. It removes a critical piece of information we need to find COVID-19 hotspots and stop the spread.”
“Nowhere was this more clear than with the outbreaks on farms, in meatpacking plants, and long-term care homes. Many of those outbreaks were not disclosed to the public and a large number of workers are getting sick. Will your government be fully transparent and tell Ontarians which workplaces have outbreaks?” asked Gates.
Gates’ question follows a Toronto Star report which used WSIB claim data to pinpoint which employers had the most COVID-19 related compensation claims. Health and safety advocates say that the lack of transparency and reporting puts workers at risk. The Toronto Board of Health has also passed a motion urging the release of information regarding COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces including the employer's names.
“When we look at long-term care and home care employers with the highest volume of compensation claims, all but four of them are in private, for-profit homes that were shortchanging our seniors and putting lives at risk, just to increase their own profits. Workers were going into these homes, without knowing if there were infected people in those workplaces,” said Gates.
“Reporting COVID-19 outbreaks is crucial to making companies accountable and stops community spread of the virus.”