Ontario is introducing rapid COVID-19 testing in participating small and medium-sized businesses to help screen employees for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, to help prevent outbreaks and keep workplaces open.

Chambers of Commerce across Ontario are being asked to register for the rapid antigen testing program through the provincial Chamber of Commerce. As of May 7, over 760,000 rapid test kits have already been shipped to 50 Chambers of Commerce, and an additional 50 chambers have expressed interest.

The free rapid antigen test can be performed anywhere and doesn’t require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It’s administered through a nasal swab and takes about 15 minutes to receive a result.

“This is really exciting news,” said Kenora Rainy-River MPP Greg Rickford. “It started out with a pilot that worked very well. Now, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is helping administer this. Chambers of Commerce can register, and we will mobilize quickly to bring them in as quickly as 24 to 48 hours.”

Rickford, who also serves as the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Energy and Indigenous Affairs, notes Fort Frances’ and Thunder Bay’s Chamber of Commerce’s have brought in these rapid testing devices for their regions, and the Minister hopes they’ll make their way into more northwestern Ontario communities soon.

“Our government’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians. As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, testing remains a key component of Ontario’s pandemic response,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“By supporting the use of rapid antigen tests by more businesses, our government is helping to provide an additional layer of protection for workers and their families.”

Locally, officers with the Treaty Three Police Service were part of the Employer Antigen Screening Pilot through WNHAC and the Kenora Chiefs Advisory from December through March to assess the value of the rapid antigen test in workplaces.