WINDSOR – As Ontario continues to lag far behind its own COVID-19 testing targets, MPPs Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh) and Taras Natyshak (Essex) are urging the government to dramatically increase testing and contact tracing given Windsor-Essex’s unique needs as a border community and manufacturing hub, with no local capacity for test processing.
“As some businesses and workplaces re-open this week, many people are likely feeling optimistic,” said MPP Gretzky. “But the reality is that province-wide, testing is still falling short, wait times for results are too long, and not all positive results are being contact-traced to contain the spread. With Chrysler and Ford workers back on the line this week, it’s a huge problem. We have a duty to keep workers safe, and right now the government is failing them.”
Ontario has consistently underperformed on COVID-19 testing, averaging under 9,000 tests per day this week, and has missed its own targets all but one time since April 15.
The MPPs say that on top of these province-wide backlogs and missed targets, the lack of local test processing capacity is putting Windsor-Essex residents at risk. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced on Friday that they will be starting random testing in the community, but until the government addresses the processing backlogs, getting test results back in a timely manner remains an issue.
“We haven’t had a publicly-run lab in Windsor since 2010, and that means we're running into significant delays," said Hatfield. "The lab was demolished and never rebuilt, and we've had to send tests to Toronto and London instead. Now people are waiting days and days for results that we could have been producing locally, while they worry about themselves and their families.”
The MPPs say that the region's close proximity to the U.S. border is also a cause for concern, and must be given serious consideration.
“We’re in a precarious situation given our close-knit relationship to Michigan. Before the government can even think about loosening restrictions on the economy or cross-border travel, we have to ensure we increase testing and contact tracing dramatically, and reduce wait times for results, to protect our most vulnerable and contain this deadly virus,” said Natyshak.
“The Premier needs to get his act together so we can make sure our community is as safe as possible. For weeks now we’ve heard a lot of talk about ramping up testing, but the words just don’t match the reality on the ground in Windsor-Essex.”