Canadian News Jan 7, 2021 3:18 PM EST

Ford government launches COVID-19 testing program at Pearson Airport

Premier Doug Ford said in the press release this COVID-19 testing program will help Ontario to identify and stop the spread of the virus in the province.

Ford government launches COVID-19 testing program at Pearson Airport
Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC
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The Ontario government is starting a COVID-19 testing pilot project at Toronto Pearson International Airport for eligible international travellers coming to the province, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

Premier Doug Ford said in the press release this COVID-19 testing program will help Ontario to identify and stop the spread of the virus in the province.

"With over 60,000 international passengers coming into Pearson Airport every week, we can't take any unnecessary risks," said Ford in the press release. "That's why we're putting in place this new pilot program to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and respond to new threats like the recent strain of the virus we're seeing in an alarming number of countries without the same travel restrictions as the U.K. The test will be free for eligible travellers, and I encourage everyone to take the test to protect yourselves and your loved ones."

The Ontario government will be partnering with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority to offer free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in the press release this COVID-19 testing program will be useful at combatting the virus.

"We are working closely with our industry partners to proceed on our commitment to implement testing at Pearson Airport to help keep people safe and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," said Elliott in the press release. "This airport testing pilot will test, trace and help isolate COVID-19 cases early and is a great step forward in protecting our borders."

Eligible travellers will be able to pre-register for the testing program or proceed to be tested when they arrive at the airport. People choosing to participate in the testing program will receive a PCR test, and they will be supervised by a health care provider in person or by video as they self-administer it. Switch Health, a health services provider, will provide the monitored self-swabbing tests in a space in the airport.

Test results will be reported into Ontario’s Lab Information System within 48 hours, and local public health units will follow up on all positive tests. All international travellers will continue to be required to follow the Canadian government’s requirement for a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving or returning to Canada, regardless of if they have a negative or positive test.

This testing program is in addition to the Canadian government’s pre-departure requirement for travellers heading to Canada to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from a test taken within three days prior to departure.

The province will be consulting with the federal government to explore the next stage, including a proposed modified quarantine period for participants who test negative.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams advises that travel outside of the province should be limited for essential purposes. Ajax MPP Rod Phillips resigned as minister of finance after he travelled outside of Ontario to go on a vacation to a Caribbean island. Brampton West MP Kamal Khera stepped down as parliamentary secretary to minister of international development after she admitted to travelling to the US to attend her uncle’s funeral.

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