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12 big Canadian companies to start voluntary rapid COVID-19 testing of employees

Last Updated Dec 18, 2020 at 10:37 am EST

A man receives a COVID-19 nasal swab test at a Shopper's Drug Mart in Toronto. CITYNEWS.

Some of Canada’s largest companies are joining together for a pilot project to screen their employees for COVID-19 before they enter the office.

Called the ‘Rapid Screening Consortium,’ it sees 12 different companies including Air Canada, Loblaws, Magna, Scotiabank and Suncor administer a rapid COVID-19 screening test twice a week to employees who volunteer to be tested. Those who sign up will be screened before entering their workplace and will receive the results within 15 minutes.

The project was spearheaded by Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Professor Janice Stein.

Stein tells 680 NEWS that the project is aimed at making essential workplaces safer.

“This is an attempt to make those people who are actually at a work site feel safer and be safer because their colleagues that are with them are being screened on a voluntary basis twice a week,” she said.

The rapid screening tests are from Health Canada and use a light nasal swab administered by a health professional. Employees will wait to get the result before entering their workplaces. The screening is not meant to replace mask wearing or social distancing, but is intended as an extra layer of protection.

The program relies on volunteer signups, but the Consortium says it is hopeful that it can increase the level of participation to a point where it becomes meaningful.

The trial will get underway on Dec. 28 and will last until April, at which point the Rapid Screening Consortium will present a handbook and will set up a mentoring system for other, smaller companies that wish to do the screenings, creating what it says will be a “plug and play model.”

The complete list of companies taking part in the pilot project are:

Air Canada
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Genpact
Loblaw Companies Limited
Magna
MDA Space
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Nutrien
Rogers
Scotiabank
Shoppers Drug Mart
Suncor