Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford vowed to ramp up COVID-19 testing to 13,000 a day starting April 9.
On Wednesday, Ford called the number of current testing of 2,000 to 3,000 per day, “absolutely unacceptable.”
“My patience has run thin. We have the testing capabilities now to test 13,000 people a day. We need to start testing 13,000 people,” Ford said during his daily press conference. “The days are done of 2,000 or 3,000 tests being done.”
Ford said he spoke with the Command Table, which is working on coronavirus responses, asking them to increase testing, especially with long-term care facilities, frontline workers, healthcare workers and other essential workers — like policemen and firefighters.
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As of Wednesday morning, the total tested in the province is 84,601 cases since the start of the outbreak.
While he commended the health experts in the province, he acknowledged that the testing response has not been adequate.
“We have everything in place, no more excuses,” Ford said.
The province also announced that they are extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day to increase health care capacity.
Work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue “any time of the night or day” in order to accelerate the construction of these projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites.
The Ontario government will also be making essential workplaces across the province safer for workers by redeploying more than 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements.
There will also be 30 specialists from health and safety associations to support employers and workers in the field and health and safety guidance notes will be issued to support specific sectors.
Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre’s lines will be doubled from 25 to 50 phone lines.
There will also be job-protected leave under the Employment Standards Act for workers who need to self-isolate or care for a loved one because of the virus.
Lastly, there has been a call to recently-retired inspectors who may be able and willing to return to their positions.
“During this escalating crisis, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, particularly to properly care for those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other patients who require critical care,” Ford said.
“That’s why we’re extending construction hours to allow us to build essential infrastructure faster, while ensuring construction workers can practice physical distancing on worksites to stay safe and healthy.”
On Tuesday, Ontario’s government launched an online portal to hire more health care positions across the province to increase the frontline capacity of hospitals, clinics, and assessment centres.
Premier Doug Ford also said that Ontario manufacturing companies will continue to make medical supplies for the health care sector to increase capacity to meet the potential demand needed in the weeks to come.
As of April 8, there are 5,276 cases in Ontario with 174 reported deaths.