The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its members, including the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce, have been lobbying the provincial government for some time to let them distribute rapid COVID tests to local businesses.
A memorandum of understanding has been reached with all levels of government to do just that, says NOTL chamber president Eduardo Lafforgue, although there are still details to be worked out and more information expected next week.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will see participating chambers of commerce and boards of trade roll out free rapid tests for small and medium-sized businesses in communities across the province. It will include businesses, including non-chamber members, with 150 employees or less.
The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic 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, says Lafforgue, acknowledging the Cambridge and Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chambers of Commerce for their work in putting together critical resources, such as the playbook, for the Ontario Chamber Network.
The test itself is simple, he says, but “there is an important amount of reporting that will represent a considerable effort, and will significantly stretch our resources,” thanking chamber staff for their support and dedication.
Once participating chambers have signed and returned the memorandum of understanding, and it has been countersigned by the province, the chamber will be contacted directly by a government representative with more instructions on how to order. Also provided will be additional resources and an opportunity to attend an online training session, says Lafforgue.
There will be a page on the chamber website dedicated to providing the details of the rapid testing initiative, and for businesses to register if they want to participate.
All participating chambers of commerce and boards of trade are listed on the OCC website here: https://occ.ca/covid-19-rapid-screening