Ontario Expands Rapid Testing for WorkplacesMay 12, 2021
Cornwall Ontario – To ramp up its fight against COVID-19 in workplaces, and in addition to the recently-announced partnership between the province and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario government has launched a new rapid testing portal to make it easier for all essential businesses to access free rapid testing to help keep employees and their families safe.
Through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program, Ontario has already delivered more than nine million rapid testing kits to nearly 1,600 workplaces. Test shipments to essential businesses have more than tripled since the beginning of April.
“To help stem the tide of the third wave and prevent workplace outbreaks, we launched the new rapid testing portal. We’re asking every business that’s able to be open, and particularly those in hot spots, to participate in Ontario’s COVID-19 Provincial Antigen Screening Program,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Join the nearly 300 essential industry sites that include rapid testing in their arsenal of safety measures to keep workers and their families safe.”
Businesses are encouraged to participate in the program by registering at ontario.ca/testingonsite. It provides free rapid antigen screening kits to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 that might otherwise be missed. It is one more way that businesses can help workers and their families stay safe and keep the virus out of workplaces. Program eligibility was recently expanded to include any business that is allowed to be open and requires staff to work on-site.
“This program complements our recently launched rapid testing initiative for small- and medium-sized businesses through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, providing them with a useful tool in the fight against this pandemic,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “If your business is essential and open, ordering free rapid tests through your local chamber of commerce is another way to help keep transmission low and workers safe.”
The recent launch of a rapid testing initiative run jointly by the Ontario government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has already proved to be successful. In just two weeks, Ontario has received orders for more than 850,000 rapid tests and is quickly delivering them to small- and medium-sized businesses in more than 40 communities across the province.
As the results of positive PCR tests are already reported to local public health units (PHUs) through the provincial lab network, the Ministry of Health is updating program requirements so organizations providing rapid antigen screening will no longer have to report preliminary positive results to PHUs, nor will they be required to report results of confirmatory lab-based PCR tests to the province. These changes will help encourage greater use of rapid testing by reducing the administrative burden and implementation barriers for all organizations and workplaces, while still maintaining strong public health and safety measures.
“Our government’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians. As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, testing remains a key component of Ontario’s pandemic response,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “By supporting the use of rapid antigen tests by more businesses, our government is helping to provide an additional layer of protection for workers and their families.”
Rapid antigen point-of-care testing goes hand in hand with public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene. Any positive results from a rapid antigen point-of-care test must be confirmed with laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
- A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g., on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes about 15 minutes to yield a result.
- Rapid antigen point-of-care testing does not replace public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene. Any positive results from a rapid antigen point-of-care test must be confirmed with laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
- Organizations participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program can now search for a service provider offering point-of-care rapid testing services through a directory on the Ontario Together website. Service providers offering point-of-care COVID-19 testing services can also apply to be listed.
- Businesses with fewer than 150 employees can participate in workplace rapid antigen screening through a program run jointly by the Ontario government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
- Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace
- Ontario Making it Easier to Administer Rapid COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace
- Infectious Disease Emergency Leave
- Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit
- Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan
- COVID-19 safety checklist for workplaces
- COVID-19 self-isolation and return to work
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit
Business Reopening Toolkit
Cornwall Economic Development has put together a toolkit to help businesses reopen. The toolkit includes guidelines and a maximum occupancy calculator along with signs and posters that can be downloaded and printed:
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