The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade (APBOT) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments, have launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. Through this initiative, the APBOT will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in Ajax and Pickering. Locally, this program has received generous sponsorship of $5,000 from both the Town of Ajax and the City of Pickering.
“Boards of Trade and chambers of commerce have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Nicole Gibson, Executive Director at the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade. “Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our board of trade is proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in Ajax and Pickering. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely.”
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 boards of trade and chambers of commerce 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 Ajax and Pickering.
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.
“The Town of Ajax is proud to support the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade to make rapid testing more accessible to those who can’t work from home,” said Mayor Shaun Collier. “We continue to advocate for continued rapid testing availability to ensure that Ajax workplaces remain safe, reducing the risk of COVID-19 infections for our entire community.”
“The City of Pickering is thrilled to support initiatives that will help our businesses continue their operations now and post-pandemic,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will facilitate local businesses in bringing employees back to the workplace safely. We will continue to work in partnership with the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade to identify key opportunities that will help our economy safely reopen, while safeguarding the health and safety of our employees and community.”
Interested SMEs can visit apboardoftrade.com/screeningkits to express their interest in the program. In the coming days, once the kits are received from the province, those SMEs will be advised of the opening of the scheduling app and be able to order their two-week supply of rapid tests.
The kits will be ready for pick-up at the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade office at 144 Old Kingston Road, Suite #3, in Ajax by appointment. 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 where they will receive video training to properly supervise the screening process and safely dispose of the used kits.
Each SME will be required to electronically submit the number of screening kits used, presumptive positives, negatives, and inconclusive 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.
“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,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “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.”
Click here to see which chambers and boards of trade are participating in the program to date. More chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be joining in the coming weeks.
Established in 1955, the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade (APBOT) is the voice of business in Ajax and Pickering, ON. With nearly 600 members, APBOT represents an array of business sectors and small to large organizations. APBOT is part of the nation-wide network of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, as well as the Joint Chambers of Durham. For more information regarding the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade, visit: www.apboardoftrade.com.