Fort Frances Chamber rolling out rapid tests

The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments, have launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. Through this initiative, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Northwestern Ontario 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 Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce is proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in The Northwestern Ontario Region. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” said Heather Johnson, Executive Director, Fort Frances 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 Northwestern Ontario Region.

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 email Heather at thefort@fortfranceschamber.com or call 807-274-5773 to order their two-week supply of rapid tests.

The kits will be ready for pick-up at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce at 240 First St E., Fort Frances, On P9A 1K5. 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, video training as well as instructions to properly supervise the screening process and safely dispose of the used kits will be emailed to participating businesses ahead of first pick-up.

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 Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, will be offering this program, distributing rapid tests to small and local businesses across the province. Over 760,000 rapid tests will be going out to communities across Ontario with 28 of our chambers participating in rolling this program out,” added Rossi.