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OHC believes Province should be doing more to test people for COVID-19

Posted: April 2, 2020

(April 1, 2020)

By: Matt Dionne, Inbrampton

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) believes the Province isn’t doing enough to test those who might have been affected by COVID-19.

Despite the fact Ontario has the largest population of any province or territory in the country, several provinces have performed more tests than Ontario.

In fact, according to information from the OHC, Ontario is last in terms of tests per capita:

Province/territory Rate per 100,000

Northwest Territories: 1819
Yukon: 1468
Alberta: 1020
Saskatchewan: 769
British Columbia: 717
Quebec: 611
Manitoba: 519
Nova Scotia: 496
Newfoundland and Labrador: 404
Prince Edward Island: 393
New Brunswick: 376
Ontario: 334

However, while the Province trails in tests per capita, it also trails in total tests performed compared to provinces with similar sizes and populations.

According to Premier Doug Ford, the reason for this is that Ontario lacks the necessary reagents to perform more tests. However, the OHC has pointed out if other provinces have the reagents to perform more tests, why doesn’t Ontario?

As of March 31, Ontario has tested 51,629 people for COVID-19, while Quebec has tested 65,900 people, B.C. has tested 42,028 people, and Alberta has tested 46,057 people.

“Is Ontario still planning to follow the World Health Organization’s advice that underlines the importance of testing and tracking, or has it simply abandoned it?” Natalie Mehra, executive director of OHC, said in a news release.

“We have held back from raising questions as the government was ramping up capacity and testing but it has been several weeks now and our province is still far behind where we should be. At this point, we are questioning whether there is a plan to test and track, and if so, when will testing criteria be loosened so that more people can access testing? Who will be prioritized? What is our province’s goal? How quickly can our province catch up to the goal?” she continued.

Further, the OHC believes Ontario residents are being asked to jump through several hoops just to get tested for the virus–in some areas, testing is by appointment only and only after pre-screening and only for those who are able to reach pre-screeners at health units and Telehealth on the phone or through their primary care provider.

Moreover, the OHC believes the Ministry of Health should have already made a list of assessment centres available to the public.

“This underlines the extent to which the province has left the management of the crisis up to individual health providers with their different cultures–some of openness and accessibility, some much more closed and opaque,” Mehra said.

“It also underlines how dampening access to assessment centres has limited testing and there appears not to have been a plan to date to do thorough testing and tracking,” she added.

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