QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said for workers not fully vaccinated in health care and education, the government should provide and require rapid tests before going to work.
“People have a right to be and to feel safe when they need medical care. They have a right to feel confident that when they drop a little one off at school or day care, their child is not being exposed to COVID-19,” said Horwath. “We have to do everything we possibly can to protect our progress in the fight against COVID-19 — to end the illness and loss of life, make this school year as normal as we can, and help businesses to stay open this time around. No one wants any more shutdowns.”
Until Ontario is fully shielded, the Ford government should invest in deploying rapid tests to hospitals, schools and clinics, and mandating that unvaccinated frontline staff take regular tests before going to work. In addition, Horwath is calling for a Last Mile Strategy to reach everyone able to get a vaccine, to talk to them about getting a shot, and to help them access one.
That system is already coming into effect for the University Health Network in early August. Horwath wants Doug Ford to roll it out broadly, ensure it’s fully funded by the province, and deploy test kits to make sure it’s successful. There must not be any cost for employees, or schools, hospitals or clinics, she said.
“If you’re not sure yet about the vaccine, we want the government to keep working with you to help you make a decision and access your shot,” said Horwath. “In the meantime, regular tests before work will help keep everyone safe and healthy, and protect Ontario’s reopening.”
Horwath believes the COVID-19 vaccine should be considered for the existing vaccines list for students. For vaccines like the measles and chicken pox shots, parents already must show their child’s immunization record, or a signed exemption, in order to register for school. Parents can choose an exemption for their child for a number of reasons.