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May 22, 2020

Government’s ill-advised plan to allow employers to conduct COVID-19 testing puts public health at risk and must not proceed, says the Ontario Federation of Labour.

“Ontario’s public health care system is staffed by well-trained, dedicated health care professionals who can do the job. The pandemic requires the government to strengthen the public health care system, not put pressure on employers to provide what is clearly a public health service,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “This government has called front-line workers heroes, but by allowing the PPE shortage to continue and continuously underfunding public health care while dismissing the work of these trained professionals in this latest scheme they show their deep disrespect for the work they do.”

“The Ford Conservatives’ testing program is a miserable failure, and the plan to have employers deliver testing is a shameful abdication of responsibility on the part of the government and would put public health in the hands of private businesses that don’t have the training, experience, equipment, facilities or safety procedures in place to deliver this crucial service,” said Coates. 

Latest figures show that provincial labs in Ontario processed 7,382 tests on Tuesday, only one-third of their capacity, and has been well under capacity for the last four days and regularly low since testing began. The order to have personal support workers employed at only one facility did not cover workers hired through temporary agencies, which could lead to outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. The PCs have not yet expanded the order for Ontario manufacturers to retool their facilities to produce personal protective equipment for Ontario.

“I call on this government to do what’s right for Ontarians and make every possible effort to ensure that the public is safe, that workers have sufficient PPE, that reopening is done when it is healthy and safe, and to ensure that COVID-19 testing is done properly in publicly funded health care facilities with high health and safety standards,” said Coates.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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For more information, please contact:

Meagan Perry
Communications Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
mperry@ofl.ca | 416-894-3456

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