Last week, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would be securing 140 million rapid antigen test kits to distribute to provinces and territories.
The substantial test kits will hopefully solve the severe shortage the country including Ontario is facing.
Kenora MP, Eric Melillo says it's positive that more rapid tests have been secured, but he hopes to see a lot more kits and hopes the federal government has a plan in place to prevent further shortages.
“Overall the federal government has been pretty slow to support domestic production of rapid tests, and they’ve been slow to procure enough for Canadians resulting in the shortages that we’ve seen across the country,” Melillo said.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP, Greg Rickford said in an interview late last year Northern Ontario ran out of 2.5 million rapid test kits it received heading in the Christmas holidays.
Rickford added that over 11 million test kits were also dispersed across the province to students to take home to use over the Christmas break and as they return to school in January.
Ontario is expecting to receive over 54 million rapid tests from the federal government this month, on top of another 85 million tests the province purchased.
On December 30, Ontario announced that PCR testing would be prioritized for those considered most vulnerable, including education staff, those who work in First Nation communities, and those in high-risk settings.
Last week, the province announced additional changes to the usage of rapid tests, as the provincial testing system continues to face ongoing pressure due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Rapid tests are now being reserved for test-to-work policies to allow employees to return to work after illness, regular testing of workers in high-risk jobs, and for people who aren’t eligible for PCR tests.
The new recommendation includes unvaccinated workers who are required to undertake rapid antigen testing twice weekly to go into work but does not include the use of rapid testing for social events.
As well, if you’re symptomatic of COVID-19 but show negative results from two rapid tests, taken 24 to 48 hours apart, Ontario says you’re now asked to isolate until symptoms improve for at least 24 hours, or 48 hours if the symptoms include gastrointestinal illness.
In an announcement on January 6, Ontario says their supply of rapid tests will be headed to vital settings first, such as hospitals, shelters, long-term care homes, and Indigenous communities.