The Canadian government is providing more employers with free rapid tests for workplace coronavirus screenings.

According to a press release, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce will enable local chambers to distribute rapid tests to smaller employers, while in Ontario, small- and medium-sized employers in the province’s coronavirus hot spots can access the tests at Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. locations. Non-profit, charitable and Indigenous community organizations will have access to tests through the Canadian Red Cross, said the release, which also noted more screening programs will be launched at federal workplaces with close contact employees.

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The release said the federal government has already provided more than one million rapid tests to screen more than 100,000 close contact workers at 58 employers across Canada, including Air Canada, Canadian Blood Services, McCain Foods Ltd., Sobeys Inc. and Teck Resources Ltd.

In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, Cheryl Doncaster, director of strategic planning and integration management at Canadian Blood Services, said rapid screening is providing its frontline workers with an added layer of protection. “Rapid screening is an important tool for identifying potential infections and breaking the chain of transmission. It helps ensure our important work of providing life-saving products and services to Canadian patients continues uninterrupted.”

In an email to Benefits Canada, Simon Gagné, executive vice-president and chief human resources officer for Sobeys, said rapid-testing pilot programs have been launched in three of the company’s retail stores and at some of its distribution centres. “This added layer of screening complementing our existing safety protocols is critical to preventing [coronavirus] from spreading undetected in the workplace. We hope others will also consider taking the opportunity to implement rapid testing.”

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