Ontario Expands Access to Rapid Testing for St. Thomas-Elgin Small BusinessesPublished on June 01, 2021
ST. THOMAS-- To ramp up its fight against COVID-19 in workplaces, the Ontario government is supporting a new rapid testing portal to make it easier for local businesses to access free rapid testing and 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.
Locally, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce, TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, and Paperwork Labs have launched The StaySafe™ Elgin Rapid Antigen Screening Program. Through this initiative, small and medium-sized businesses throughout Elgin County can engage in self-administered rapid antigen screening to asymptomatic employees.
“Rapid antigen screening is an important tool in bringing an end to this pandemic,” said Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London. “I’m proud that the Ontario government is supporting local small business owners in keeping their teams and patrons safe, and greatly appreciate all who are working to make the most of this great opportunity.”
The StaySafe™ Elgin Rapid Antigen Screening Program will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses, with 150 employees or less. The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home and in the community.
Business owners must place orders for screening kits online at StaySafeElgin.ca. The kits will be offered free of cost, giving businesses direct access to screening kits to implement rapid screening programs for their employees. Businesses who have ordered kits will receive a two-week supply based on twice weekly screening of their employees.
“The talent, tenacity and resiliency of our local business community has been on full display throughout the pandemic. The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to offer all local businesses, members or not, access to free COVID-19 Rapid Screening tests for small and medium-sized businesses in our community. This important tool, which will help to disrupt the spread of the disease, is only possible through our collaboration with the federal and provincial governments, as well as the support of some incredible Chamber members like Libro, Graham Scott Enns, Nurse Next Store and TechAlliance,” –Paul Jenkins, CEO, St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce.
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.
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