Ontario Independent

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ontario is making free rapid tests more accessible to the general public

Free Rapid Tests for the General Public are being expanded in Ontario

Key Takeaways:

  • To support the province’s cautious easing of public health measures, the Ontario government is providing free rapid testing kits for at-home use to the general public.
  • To best serve the community, they will choose how tests are distributed, such as through appointment bookings, at checkout, or through online orders.
  • Ontario has purchased 157 million rapid tests directly to date, with 126 million purchased between December 2021 and January 2022.

The Ontario government is widening access to free rapid testing kits for at-home use to the general public to support the province’s cautious easing of public health measures. 

Ontario will distribute 5 million rapid tests for 8 weeks through a pharmacy as well as grocery locations throughout the province, as well as 500,000 every week through community partners in vulnerable communities, thanks to the province’s direct procurement. 

Over the upcoming few weeks, the province will make 44 million rapid tests accessible to the public for free.

“As we proceed to ease public health measures, rapid tests provide an additional layer of protection and provide the public with an additional tool to confidently do the things they enjoy, such as visiting family or dining at their favorite local restaurant,” stated “Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. 

Also read: Ontario will release the names of educators who have been accused of sexual misconduct

“In moreover to the millions of rapid tests distributed each week to support priority settings like hospitals, long-term care homes, as well as schools, we’re expanding access to at-home rapid tests with our retail and community partners.”

Over 2,300 grocery and pharmacy locations will offer free rapid tests beginning February 9 while supplies last, with a maximum of one box of 5 trials tests per household for every visit. Each week, participating retailers will receive additional supplies from the province. 

They will choose how tests are distributed to best serve the community, such as through appointment bookings, at checkout, or through online orders. 

According to the province, additional locations, such as independent grocers and pharmacies, will be added in the coming weeks.

Lead agencies working as part of the High Priority Communities Strategy will distribute rapid tests through existing local partnerships, such as community centers, community health centers, religious sites, and food banks, to support access to tests for communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and face barriers to testing, such as language, income, as well as transportation. 

Individual circumstances, including a multi-generational household or a family member who is immunocompromised, will allow lead agencies to provide additional boxes.

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, stated, “Providing expanded access to testing for Ontarians will endorse the province’s cautious approach to easing public health measures.” “While testing is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, vaccination is still the best defense towards the virus as well as its variants.” 

Free Rapid Tests for the General Public are being expanded in Ontario
Free Rapid Tests for the General Public are being expanded in Ontario. Image from kawarthaNOW

To protect our communities and health-care system capacity, we must continue to follow the public health measures that are still in place over the next few months and vaccinate those who have not yet received their doses.”

Expanding public access to free rapid testing kits complements Ontario’s comprehensive testing strategy, which focuses on the province’s priority industries and workplaces. 

The Provincial Antigen Screening Program distributes over 10 million rapid tests weekly to these sites and any other sector that qualifies. 

Since November 2020, over 75 million rapid antigen tests have been deployed, with over 33 million being deployed to priority sectors to provide an extra layer of protection for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and retirement homes as of February 8. A total of 26 million tests have been distributed to support schools and licensed child care settings.

To date, Ontario has purchased 157 million rapid tests directly, including 126 million between December 2021 as well as January 2022. Ontario is also functioning closely with the federal govt to address delays in shipments from Health Canada. 

It is procuring additional rapid tests directly where possible to ensure that Ontarians continue to have access to rapid antigen tests. About 36 million of the 54.3 million rapid tests promised by the federal government to Ontario in January have been delivered.

Source: Ontario

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