April 27th, 2020

Vague re-opening plan missing actions to make new economy safe

Caution is good. Testing, inspecting, and expanding access to PPE is still needed: NDP

QUEEN’S PARK — Successfully re-opening the economy will take action, not just words and passive monitoring, says Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

“The government needs to dramatically ramp up inspections and testing. They need to get personal protective equipment into the hands of workers in workplaces that are re-opening. And they need a plan to stop the outbreaks still raging in long-term care,” said Horwath. “The government can and must do more if we are to safely move forward. There is an active role only the government can play in making the re-opening successful and safe.”

The government’s framework for re-opening was rightfully committed to following the advice of public health, and re-opening cautiously and in phases — the NDP supports that approach. But the NDP also wants to see the government’s role include:

Proactive and on-site inspections of re-opened workplaces to ensure physical distancing and infection control. Even with the current limited number of businesses operating, workers report that they cannot get on-site inspections of their work conditions.

Dramatically ramping up testing of people in the community, including asymptomatic people. Ontario continues to have the lowest testing rate in the country and experts say we need much more testing before businesses re-open.

Expanding the availability and use of personal protective equipment in workplaces that are re-opening.

Dramatically ramping up containment efforts in long-term care and other congregate care settings to save lives, and stop the wildfire from spreading back into the community — including a plan for workers that come and go from homes where deadly outbreaks continue to rage, and are still growing.

“We have to learn from SARS. We have to learn from countries experiencing a second COVID-19 wave. If the province doesn’t put a robust plan in place to dramatically expand testing, inspections and infection control, we could see a resurgence of this deadly virus.”

Horwath said the government’s framework is disappointingly vague, leaving people and businesses without information on what each phase will look like, which could lead to misinformation.


Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, a clinical epidemiologist, assistant professor at University of Toronto and scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, said Ontario needs to do much more testing if it hopes to relax its physical-distancing rules – possibly as many as 10 times more tests...“If we remain in this situation where we are behind the eight ball with testing and contact tracing, it’s going to be hard to come out of physical distancing.”
April 27, 2020


David Fisman told TVO: “What we need to do now, as we start to think about reopening the economy, is think about how we’re going to use testing for situational awareness and surveillance.

April 24, 2020


Marty Warren, United Steel Workers District 6 Director

“The overwhelming number of field reports that we have received show that investigations are not taking place on site, but rather by phone or even video. Also, the expectation seems to be that internal workplace processes with employers and the union will somehow suffice without orders or enforcement of such orders.”