August 31st, 2021

Horwath proposes legislating “safety zones” to fight anti-public health harassment

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is proposing legislation that would create safety zones around small businesses to protect businesses, staff and patrons from anti-public health harassment.

Horwath’s proposal comes as local businesses, workers and everyday Ontarians have been calling attention to organized and often violent anti-public health intimidation campaigns targeting small business owners, their staff and customers in communities across Ontario.

“No one should have to worry about being harassed for following public health measures in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Horwath at a Queen’s Park press conference. “Not small business owners working tirelessly to recover after enduring devastating lockdowns. Not folks who want to support their neighbours by dining or shopping locally. And not workers who are just trying to do their job after being laid off for months.

“But in recent weeks, we have seen frightening examples of organized anti-public health harassment and intimidation targeting small businesses. And shamefully, Doug Ford has been in hiding, rather than supporting local businesses that continue to step up and follow COVID-19-related public health measures on their own as the fourth wave builds.”

Horwath’s bill would make targeted harassment of people and businesses upholding public health rules in safety zones a provincial offence, punishable by a fine of up to $25,000. The law would also protect people’s right to access and patronize businesses free from harassment.

“Doug Ford needs to take action to help struggling small business owners and their communities, added Horwath. “That means passing this anti-harassment legislation as soon as the legislature resumes. And it also means rolling out long overdue vaccine certificates, while being clear about rules around non-essential businesses and services, and collaborating with experts, local businesses and community leaders so no one is left behind.”