Toronto is "not in the business of shutting down restaurants," said Toronto's board of health chair, despite repeat offenders of the city's DineSafe program continuing to operate without much consequence.
DineSafe signs are clearly visible in restaurants across the city: a green sign means a pass, and yellow means a conditional pass based on an inspection by public health officials.
CBC Toronto crunched the numbers and found that a Scarborough restaurant tops the list of violations with more than thirty - resulting in eight yellow signs - in just two years.
"We don't want to nag people and shut down their restaurants for what we call minor infractions," said Joe Mihevc, who chairs the board of health.
Mihevc said the DineSafe program has boosted compliance from 50 per cent to 90 per cent since the program launched in 2001.
The CBC's Steven Bull reported that a restaurant may be issued a conditional pass, with the promise of fixing the problem before a given deadline, for faulty refrigerators, dirty washrooms and even contaminated food.
Some repeat offenders claim language issues are a problem understanding the fixes to be made, but the city says it provides multilingual documents and staff to help.
Sylvanus Thompson, associate director of Toronto Public Health, said if warnings and fines don't work "our next option is to refer them to the license tribunal."
"The license tribunal has the authority to revoke the license or set conditions on the license," he said.
However, there's only been four Toronto restaurants to lose their license from that tribunal since 2001.
Click the video above to see Steven Bull's report.