COVID-19 test kit program for businesses, but used by parents

People behind a program in Waterloo Region that offers rapid COVID-19 testing kits to local businesses say steps will be taken to ensure the kits go to businesses and not to parents who want to test their children at the home. House.

The StaySafe Screen program is a partnership between the federal government, the provincial government and the Region of Waterloo to offer the kits to business owners so that workers can be regularly tested when they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.

But CBC News recently reported that parents in Toronto signed up as “ambassadors” to get the test kits, then used them to test their children.

One of the parents is Sam Kaufman from Toronto, who said he was frustrated the Ontario government failed to provide schools with rapid tests. He said he had become an “ambassador” through the StaySafe Screen program.

“You may not be able to stop a classroom from coming home, but I hope you prevent many children from getting sick and the epidemic gets out of hand,” Kaufman said.

Communitech, a tech hub in Kitchener, hosts the Stay Safe Screen program and people pick up the kits in person at the Communitech office downtown.

Matthew Bondy is Communitech’s vice president of external relations and says he understands why parents would be eager to use the kits for their children, especially those aged 11 and under who cannot yet be vaccinated against the COVID-19.

“But I want to stress that the aim of the program is to bring the quick kits to the workplace, to keep businesses open and workers safe,” he said.

How the program works

In order for people to get the test kits, they sign up as “ambassadors” for their workplace. They can then apply online and request a number of test kits.

The questionnaire does not ask people what company they work for. Instead, it asks:

  • How would you use the rapid tests you will receive as a StaySafe Ambassador?
  • How will you use your position as a StaySafe Ambassador to tell others about rapid tests?

Bondy said he didn’t want to speculate on how parents in Toronto or other cities get the kits for businesses in the Waterloo region.

But he said they would make it clear to ambassadors in the future the purpose of the kits.

“What we’re going to try to do is just make sure we’re communicating very clearly with all of the stakeholders, including the parents, who are watching, we understand that there is a great appetite for this form of [personal protective equipment], but the purpose of this program is not to provide it to groups outside of their workplace. [It’s] to keep businesses open and workers safe, ”Bondy said.

“If we need to look at some elements of applicability to make sure we’re governing this process properly, then we’ll look at that.”

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