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Cost of administering COVID-19 tests to Ontario taxpayers revealed

Last Updated Sep 30, 2020 at 6:24 pm EDT

People pass by a Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Toronto on Monday, July 15, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Ontario pharmacies conducting COVID-19 tests will be reimbursed $42 per test by the government, which includes a fee for patient assessment and a specimen collection fee, said to be $20 and $22 respectively.

The cost appears to be slightly cheaper than tests done at government run assessment centres, which the Health Ministry tells 680 NEWS is $47.50. That total is intended to include the cost of a swab kit and the lab processing cost but does not include other steps in the testing process such as assessment, swabbing and PPE.

The opposition NDP says taxpayers will end paying more for fewer tests.

“The Doug Ford government denied requests from our public health care system for more funding and more staff, which would have enabled them to expand testing and be ready for the second wave everyone knew was coming. Ford said no. But when his insider buddies running massive pharmacy corporations asked for cash, Ford said yes,” NDP MPP France Gélinas said in a statement.

“We should make the most of the resources for testing and contract tracing – but Ford’s choice to pay extra per-test to pad the profit margins of pharmacy corporations makes no sense.”

Just over 60 Ontario pharmacies launched COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic individuals last week and many are being inundated with requests.