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If Ontario travellers want a COVID test, they’ll have to pay for it, says province

  • Air
  •   12-14-2020  11:03 am
  •   Pax Global Media

If Ontario travellers want a COVID test, they’ll have to pay for it, says province
Pax Global Media

Residents of Ontario will no longer be able to access free COVID-19 tests for international travel, the Ontario government said on Monday (Dec. 14).

In a statement, officials said the decision was made in order to “ensure taxpayer dollars are appropriately allocated to key priorities and to preserve capacity within the provincially funded COVID-19 testing network.”

Each COVID-19 test that’s offered free of charge costs Ontario taxpayers $48, according to the 2020 budget.

However, Ontarians that need a test for reasons other than travel can still receive one at no cost, Health Minister Christine Elliott clarified on Monday.

READ MORE: Premier Ford wants to "knock down" Canada’s 14-day quarantine

Ontario travellers that require a test (for the purpose of entering a destination, for example) can obtain one at Shoppers Drug Mart for $199, plus tax. 

However, it should be noted that, right now, only select pharmacies at stores in downtown Toronto and the Greater GTA are offering this service. (For a complete list of Ontario-based Shoppers that offer testing, click here). 

Previously, travellers were able to access free tests at select pharmacies. The service was intended for front-line workers, essential caregivers or asymptomatic people who might have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

However, it’s believed that some used it for travel and peace of mind purposes also.

Travellers entering Canada (with exception to those entering through Alberta) are still subject to Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine order.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has long spoken in favour of Ontario easing its quarantine measures for travellers by introducing rapid testing at airports.

"I'm really pushing it because if you can land and you can get tested right away and then you get tested, I think it’s five to seven days later, and they both come out negative, you should be able to go on your way,” said Ford on Dec. 2. 

The Ontario Premier has been a vocal supporter of Alberta’s COVID-19 pilot project, which aims to reduce quarantine times for travellers through rapid testing at Coutts land border crossing in southern Alberta and Calgary International Airport. 

The Government of Canada recently extended its mandatory quarantine order and travel restrictions to January 21, 2021.

Additionally, travellers entering Canada must now submit a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment and quarantine plan, electronically, before boarding their flight, through the new ArriveCAN app.

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