COVID-19 Rapid testing expands across Ontario

Friday, May 07, 2021

Rapid testing to help keep workers safe in small and medium-sized businesses

Ontario trillium logoA new COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative for small and medium-sized businesses across the province has been launched by the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative provides free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses through participating local chambers of commerce and other organizations. The program will screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to keep workers and their families safe and businesses open.

This initiative has quickly garnered significant interest with chambers of commerce across the province. More than 760,000 rapid test kits have already shipped to 28 chambers and more than 50 others have expressed interest in participating.

Ontario has already begun delivering rapid testing kits through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program to workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, the supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. As of April 30, about 7.6 million rapid antigen tests had been sent through the program to nearly 1,500 workplaces. This includes nearly 200 essential industry sites, most of them in hot spot areas.

Quick Facts

To contact participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade about the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative, visit the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Non-chamber members with 150 or fewer employees are welcome to participate in the initiative.

The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative applies to businesses allowed to be open under current orders. Visit ontario.ca/testingonsite to find out more.

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 chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Employees can self-swab using a COVID-19 rapid test under the supervision of a trained employee or business owner.

Frequent screening with rapid antigen tests increases the chances of early identification of cases in otherwise asymptomatic individuals.

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.

Ontario has also released guidance for individuals or organizations that choose to participate in COVID-19 testing that falls outside of the public health care system, to ensure there is appropriate oversight and consumer protection and that public resources are supporting public health initiatives.

Additional Resources

Anyone who has symptoms, is a known close contact of someone with COVID-19 or is part of another group that meets provincial testing eligibility criteria should make an appointment at an assessment centre, participating pharmacy or specimen collection centre. Please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find a testing location and eligibility criteria to be tested.

Visit COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario website to learn more about how to stop COVID-19.

Workplace Safety North free COVID-19 prevention resources

COVID-19 Safety Checklist for Businesses

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