Provincial Press Release April 26, 2021 @ 10:02am published at 10:20am
Alberta is making it easier and less expensive for organizations to deliver rapid testing programs safely and effectively.
Businesses and service providers that want to access free rapid tests from the Government of Alberta will no longer be required to have a health-care provider oversee their screening program.
This means organizations will be able to participate in the rapid testing program completely independently and without the burden of finding and paying for a health-care provider. This change will also free up health-care professional capacity at a time when it is most needed.
“As cases are on the rise, we know that many organizations can benefit from rapid screening programs, in order to catch cases early and break chains of transmission. We have heard from Alberta’s business community and other organizations that hiring a health-care provider was a significant and costly barrier for many organizations. This change will allow more organizations to access rapid testing kits without compromising health and safety.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
“The removal of the requirement to have a health-care professional oversee the rapid screening program will remove a cost barrier to small and medium enterprises participating in this program. This will permit a wider and faster adoption of the rapid test program. It will also free up health-care professionals to more effectively use their skills in fighting this pandemic.”Ken Kobly, president and CEO, Alberta Chambers of Commerce
Alberta will be working with Alberta Chambers of Commerce to develop a program specifically for chamber members. Details will be available soon.
More than 1.785 million rapid tests have now been deployed across Alberta.
The decision to remove the requirement for health-care provider oversight is supported by Health Canada and aligns with rapid testing programs implemented by Ontario and some international jurisdictions.
There are stringent requirements on the use of the rapid tests for asymptomatic screening that all organizations are obligated to follow. Organizations will be responsible for ensuring that anyone administering the test is adequately trained.
Rapid tests are easy to administer and training can be accomplished through online resources. Additional materials will be made available on the Government of Alberta rapid testing webpage to help organizations train staff to oversee screening.
Alberta’s rapid testing program maintains strict eligibility requirements, safety protocols and oversight to ensure safe and effective program delivery.
To be eligible for rapid testing kits, employers and service providers must have a screening program plan that outlines:
protocols for administering the tests
the use of personal protective equipment
processes for reporting results and managing individuals who screen positive.
Launched in March, Alberta’s rapid testing program allows any organization to apply for free COVID-19 rapid testing kits to be used in a screening program. Priority will be given to businesses and organizations involved with vulnerable populations, high-risk settings and workplaces, essential and front-line services, critical industry, and sectors that support the reopening of economic and social activity.
Rapid COVID-19 tests can help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases so they can be isolated early. Individuals with symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19 should continue to be tested by scheduling through Alberta Health Service’s online self-assessment tool.
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses, and protect Alberta’s health-care system.
Rapid tests are provided for free to all successful applicants.
Organizations are responsible for all costs related to establishing and operating their screening programs and assume all medical and legal responsibilities associated with them.
Rapid testing kits have been, or are scheduled to be, deployed to help screen and test cases across Alberta, including:
More than 90 Alberta businesses and organizations approved through the rapid testing program and 910,000 tests committed and/or shipped to date. This includes companies in critical industries such as oil and gas, transportation, meatpacking and utilities.
840,000 tests to long-term care and designated supportive living facilities.
440,000 tests to support a rapid screening pilot in schools.
More than 50 COVID-19 assessment centres.
About 70 hospital-based labs.
Eight homeless shelters.