Labour Minister stressing safety as economy starts to reopen

Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton, makes job protection legislation announcement.

As thousands of workers return to the job across the province, Ontario’s Minister of Labour is urging them to speak with their employers if they don’t feel safe about returning to work during the pandemic.

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton said health and safety have to be the “top priority” for all businesses. He added businesses should not open if they’re not ready to do it safely with proper physical distancing and sanitation measures in place to protect workers, consumers, and the general public from COVID-19.

“The message to businesses out there [is] if you’re not quite ready, don’t open. Wait until the health and safety measures are put in place. It’s important for businesses as well because they need their workers to come back. So, feeling safe is important,” he said.

He added consumers also need to feel confident and safe going into the stores because it will be a big factor in whether this gradual opening of the economy is going to be successful or not. McNaughton is reassuring workers that the vast majority of businesses across Ontario have taken several safety precautions to keep workers safe and many jobs are protected for different reasons so workers don’t have to worry about their health and safety when they’re comfortable returning to the job.

“Most businesses have really stepped up to put in Plexiglas for example between customers and cashiers. The sales associates in hardware stores and grocery stores are now carrying hand sanitizer on them,” added McNaughton.

Stage one of a three-stage plan for kickstarting the economy in Ontario is underway, but McNaughton repeated that service industry workers such as waitresses and hairdressers will be sitting on the sidelines for a while longer because the daily number of COVID-19 cases across the province is not low enough yet.

McNaughton said workers who don’t feel safe on the job can always call a provincial hotline at 877-202-0008. Click here for more information about preventing COVID-19 in the workplace.