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05/10/2021

SMEs can now access free COVID-19 rapid tests

Illustration of how COVID antigen rapid tests work

The federal government and some provincial governments are partnering with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and provincial counterparts for the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative.

In Ontario for instance, through this initiative, participating chambers of commerce and boards of trade will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in communities 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,” Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said in a release. 

The free rapid antigen 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 initiative is designed 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.

“As the indispensable partner of business, we are proud that many of our member chambers of commerce and boards of trade 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.

The program 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. In turn, up to 30,000 employees in essential workplaces are receiving regular screening twice weekly.

The new COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program.

To order rapid tests, click here to see which chambers and boards of trade are participating in the program (more chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be joining in the coming weeks).