May 22nd, 2020

NDP calls for testing for all workers, new mobile testing

Ontario averaging just 8,826 daily COVID-19 tests for the past week

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP’s Andrea Horwath is calling for a dramatically ramped-up COVID-19 testing regime to start immediately, including systematic testing for essential workers and people returning to work, all congregate care settings, plus mobile testing centres to start random community testing.

“Low testing numbers put people’s health at risk, and put Ontario’s economic re-opening at risk,” said Horwath. “For weeks, people were being turned away from the assessment centres because of Ford’s restrictive testing policy. Now, the government blames abysmally low testing numbers on people not showing up to assessment centres.

“With tests never getting up to decent levels in Ontario, Ford’s been all bluster and blame, and no action to institute a strong COVID-19 testing regime. Let’s make today the day Ontario starts that.”

Horwath and the Official Opposition are proposing a systematic surveillance testing regime, 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 re-opening workplaces, partnering with large employers in areas such as food supply, construction, manufacturing and automotive industries.
  • Random sample testing in community, using new mobile assessment centres, which would travel to areas where community members are congregating — such as grocery store and pharmacy parking lots.

All three of these new endeavors would test asymptomatic people. Individuals with symptoms should continue to attend an assessment centre, as per the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

As of May 12, the province’s testing goal is 20,000 tests every 24 hours. On Friday, Ontario completed 11,276 tests and the average for the past week is 8,826 daily tests.

“When Health Minister Christine Elliott falsely claims Ontario leads the country in testing, it’s clear the Ford government doesn’t see the urgency of ramping up Ontario’s testing,” said Horwath. “But it is urgent. It’s people’s lives and our economic recovery on the line. Ontario needs to test, test, test and keep testing.”