October 6th, 2020

Stevens: Ford must fix the testing mess in Niagara

Call back wait time for Niagara assessment centres has doubled over the weekend

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines) has urged Doug Ford to stop trying to save money off the backs of Niagara residents, and fix the testing mess in Niagara, that’s left local residents waiting for up to four days just to get a call back from an assessment centre to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test.

Over the weekend, the time to get a call back from Niagara assessment centres has doubled from up to two days to up to four days. Stevens shared the experience of a St. Catharines resident who has struggled to book a test so she can visit her grandmother in hospital.

“A resident in St. Catharines is trying to get a COVID-19 test to see her dying grandmother in a nursing home. She called a pharmacy but was told she couldn’t get a test until October 23. Under distress she called the Niagara assessment centre last Friday, and the voice mail said they would return her message in 48 hours. The time it takes to get a return call has since doubled. A Niagara resident now has to wait three to four days,” said Stevens.

“How can this government continue to say their plan is working when someone in Niagara has to wait up to four days to just get a call back about a test?” Stevens asked Ford.

Last month, Niagara officials spoke to the St. Catharines Standard about the concerning delays in testing times in the region. In some cases residents are waiting for 10, 11 or 12 days to get a result. Stevens says these severe delays are putting Niagarans at greater risk. By the time the local public health unit has followed up with contacts of a positive case, it may be too late as they could already have spread the virus to others.

“Doug Ford’s spin is not good enough,” said Stevens. “Mr. Ford, will you commit to fixing the mess that you made by investing in public health units so that they have the resources they need to increase their testing capacity?”