Ontario will not issue retroactive fines against care facilities that failed to prevent the spread of the 2014 H1N1 pandemic, arguing that it would violate property owners’ due process rights.
The Ministry of Labour published a letter Tuesday from its legal adviser, David Green, to the government of Ontario, in which he specifically argued that the statement of rights and responsibilities in the Occupational Health and Safety Act did not guarantee that the ministry would issue a fine after finding a violation.
“If there are reasonable prospects that a future employer can address the violation of the piecemeal approach, it would not be in the public interest to put current employment at risk on the basis of an intention that an earlier employer may not have followed,” Mr. Green wrote in the letter.
The government had been in discussions with the Ministry of Labour to bring about a deal that could provide better monitoring for health and safety violations.
About 60 percent of infants, teens and adults died from complications related to H1N1 between May and September 2014, more than half of whom were of pre-existing medical conditions. The Canadian Centers for Disease Control found that almost two-thirds of deaths from H1N1 were in people over 50. Infants accounted for 25 percent of H1N1 deaths, and all infant deaths in Ontario related to the pandemic occurred in long-term care homes.
Last year, the Canada Health Infoport found that many Ontario long-term care homes could not meet federal national standards on infectious disease control. Two months ago, the Ontario government announced new emergency measures to boost health and safety standards in nursing homes.
Now the government has asked the opposition parties to drop their calls for an independent review of long-term care after receiving the letter from the Ministry of Labour.