The province announced Thursday that it is offering a free health and safety program to small businesses across Ontario over the next three years.

The government says the new online training course is geared toward safety for those working in retail, construction, health care, accommodation and food services, and other sectors.

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“As Ontario reopens, keeping workers safe will continue to be our top priority,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton stated.

“Small businesses have less resources to learn about health and safety than other businesses and we know they are facing a lot of financial pressures as a result of this pandemic.”

The Ford government says the new program comes with a price tag of $10.5 million.

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The funding will cover the registration fees for the online course and will also reimburse small businesses $150 to cover employees’ training time.

To qualify, businesses will need to employ between six and 19 people.

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The province says it will take about six to eight hours to complete the course, which covers occupational health and safety laws as well as rights, duties and responsibilities of workplace parties.

It also looks at the duties of the health and safety representative and how to spot and handle common workplace hazards.

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