May 24th, 2020

Ford must take responsibility for, and action on, COVID-19 testing failures

NDP is pushing for mass testing of asymptomatic people outside assessment centres

QUEEN’S PARK — On Sunday, Doug Ford once again failed to take responsibility for a week of abysmally low COVID-19 testing numbers, and didn’t take action to put a new plan in place to fix the province’s recklessly inadequate testing regime. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for systemic testing of asymptomatic people outside of assessment centres, saying that the existing system has proven it’s not enough.

On Sunday, Doug Ford said that people simply need to show up at existing COVID-19 assessment centres more, even if they’re asymptomatic. Over the 24 hours ending Sunday, the province completed just 11,383 tests — barely more than half way to the 20,000-test daily goal Ford has never met.

“For weeks, Doug Ford’s restrictive testing rules were turning people away from assessment centres,” said Horwath. “He blamed a lack of swabs. Then he blamed a lack of reagent. Then he blamed public health leaders. In all that time, he hasn’t expanded testing, or taken it outside the existing assessment centres.

“Testing needs to be expanded far beyond those assessment centres. That’s Ford’s job, and he’s been negligent in failing to do it.”

Horwath and the Official Opposition have been calling for new initiatives to test thousands of asymptomatic people, daily, including:

  • Systematic testing aiming for 100 per cent coverage in group homes, shelters, retirement homes and other congregate settings.
  • Systematic workplace testing of essential workers and workers in re-opening workplaces, partnering with large employers in areas such as food supply, construction, manufacturing and automotive industries.
  • Random sample testing in community, using mobile assessment centres, which would travel to areas where community members are congregating — such as grocery store and pharmacy parking lots.

Just days ago, Ford falsely declared that Ontario is a “global leader” on testing numbers, once again.

“Enough words. Enough blame. Let’s see some action. People’s lives and our province’s economic health depend on it.” said Horwath.