Canadian Manufacturing

Nearly two thirds of small businesses would consider using COVID-19 rapid tests to remain open

CFIB is calling on the federal and provincial governments to expand on large enterprise rapid screening pilots to allow small firms

February 19, 2021  by CM Staff

Businesses are slowly beginning to reopen amid COVID-19. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

TORONTO — Widespread use of rapid testing or screening of employees in small businesses could be an important next step in reopening the economy safely, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). A majority of small business owners (63%) say they would consider using COVID-19 rapid screening in their workplace if it would help their business stay open.

“Small businesses have willingly adopted every new safety measure and protocol recommended by governments, and it is encouraging that so many are willing to consider using rapid screening in their workplaces,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB’s president. “And while it is deeply disappointing that it has taken nearly a full year of the pandemic for governments to get serious about using rapid screening, CFIB believes it can be another tool in our arsenal, allowing small firms to remain open and helping us avoid further lockdowns.”

The sectors most interested in using rapid screening are:

  • Social services (e.g. dentists, chiropractors) – 71%
  • Hospitality (e.g. restaurants, hotels) – 69%
  • Wholesale – 68%
  • Construction – 66%
  • Personal services (e.g. salons, dry cleaners) – 66%
  • Arts and recreation (e.g. gyms, arcades) – 66%

CFIB is calling on the federal and provincial governments to expand on recent large enterprise rapid screening pilots by creating supports to allow small firms to quickly and easily use such screens in their workplaces. CFIB urges governments to use the advice of the Federal Government’s Industry Advisory Ad Hoc Roundtable on COVID-19 Testing and Screening, of which CFIB is a member. The group suggests governments create a pathway to allow small employers to use Canada’s pharmacies and private labs to screen for COVID-19 cases. In such a model, small employers could ask their team members to visit a local pharmacy for a rapid screening test once or twice a week, with the data shared with both the employer and employee.

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“One of the many critical elements to speed up rapid screening is removing provincial red tape, including restrictions on which professionals can participate in the screening process,” Kelly added.

“Lockdowns are not the only tool in the fight against COVID-19 and their frequent use has caused massive unintended consequences on small businesses and their employees,” Kelly concluded. “Allowing workplaces to reopen with safety measures, including the expanded use of rapid screening, can help us avoid further lockdowns on Canada’s long road to an economic recovery.”