Today, the Windsor-Essex, Leamington District, and Amherstburg Chambers of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments, and WEtech Alliance, have launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. Through this initiative, the Windsor-Essex, Leamington District, and Amherstburg Chambers will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Essex County Region.
“Chambers of commerce and boards of trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our chambers are proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in Essex County. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” said Rakesh Naidu, President and CEO, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses. The tests will be distributed through participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in Ontario. Businesses (including non-chamber members) with 150 employees or less are welcome to participate in this program. The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home and around the community in Essex County.
The Initiative was first successfully piloted in the Waterloo region by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce in partnership with Communitech, the Government of Ontario and Government of Canada. Through this pilot, the chambers have delivered 120,000 kits to nearly 1,400 businesses in the region. This means that up to 30,000 employees in essential workplaces are receiving regular screening twice weekly in the Waterloo region alone. The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program and delivers tests into the hands of small and medium-sized businesses across the province.
“Rapid testing is one of the key ways to keep workplaces as safe as possible during the pandemic as we wait for vaccinations to roll out. It will be an essential part of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities so that we can get on the path to economic recovery faster,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
Interested SMEs can log into WEStaySafe.ca beginning on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 to order their two-week supply of rapid tests.
The kits will be ready for pick-up at four locations in Essex County to be announced on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A designate from each SME, responsible for supervising the self-screening collection onsite, will be required to attend the site for the initial pick-up where they will receive video training to properly supervise the screening process and safely dispose of the used kits.
Each SME will be required to electronically submit their screening results after each occasion and will be recommended to screen staff twice weekly. The accumulated data will be reported to the Ministry of Health bimonthly.
If a test results in a preliminary positive for COVID-19, the employee will be required to leave the workplace, arrange for a PCR Test within 24 hours at an approved COVID-19 assessment site, and self-isolate until a confirmatory test result is received.
“As the indispensable partner of business, we are proud that many of our member chambers of commerce and boards of trade, including Windsor-Essex, Leamington District, and Amhertburg, will be offering this program, distributing rapid tests to small and local businesses across the province. Over 700,000 rapid tests have already been shipped to 25 of our chambers and many more are showing interest in rolling this program out,” added Rossi.
Click here to see which chambers and boards of trade are participating in the program to date. More chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be joining in the coming weeks.