Legal terms and enforcement

Public health inspectors have the duty and the authority under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (Government of Ontario) to inspect premises within their jurisdiction to ensure compliance with various pieces of legislation. These inspections and investigations are used to make sure that the minimum standards set out in the applicable legislation is met. These inspections may also be referred to as routine or compliance inspections.

Check Before You Go!  Inspection and complaint information, convictions and orders are available online.

Actions taken

Inspections, once completed are provided with an overall assessment. They are:


Infractions may also be known as violations or non-compliant items. This refers to a situation where the operator is not complying with a requirement listed in the legislation.

Offence notices (tickets)

Also known as a charge, certificate of offence or ticket, an offence notice can be issued by a provincial offences officer for each infraction when contraventions to applicable legislation are observed during an inspection or re-inspection. Not all legislation allows charges to be laid.


A charge becomes a conviction when the person charged is found guilty or admits to being guilty of an offence. This is a decision of a Judge or Justice of the Peace in a court of law. An individual identifies their guilt by paying the amount indicated on the ticket.


A summons can be given instead of a ticket. A summons is a legal document that requires the person charged to appear in an Ontario Court of Justice regarding an infraction. The summons typically leads to a trial date being set. During a trial, a Justice of the Peace will determine a fine or sentence if the person or corporation is convicted.


Public health inspectors can issue orders under the authority of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Commonly referred to as Section 13 Orders, these are issued when the public health inspector is of the opinion, upon reasonable and probable grounds, that a health hazard exists, and the requirements specified in the order are necessary to decrease the effect or to eliminate the health hazard.

Orders are typically issued when there is an imminent health risk for which the only means of preventing human illness is by ordering the premises to take action specified in the order until such time the health hazard is eliminated.

When the conditions set-out in the Order have been met the order is rescinded and no longer in effect. This means there is no longer an imminent risk to the health of the public.

Examples of orders include:

Closure order: this is an order on a premises to close until such time the health hazard has been eliminated. Examples include: no hot water or a lack of potable water.

Boil water order: this is put in place for the operator to use boiled water or a commercially prepared water supply until the water is rendered safe.

Drinking water order: this is put in place for the operator as there may be a chemical contamination in the water supply and boiling the water may cause more harm. This order will be rescinded when satisfactory water sample results are achieved.

Prohibition order: tobacco enforcement officers can issue a prohibition order under the authority of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA). A prohibition order is issued when a tobacco vendor has been convicted under the SFOA more than twice within 5 years. The prohibition order prohibits the vendor from selling tobacco products for a period of time starting at 6 months.

This item was last modified on January 9, 2019