Local MP calls for rapid COVID-19 testing at border in Windsor

·2 min read

Windsor West MP Brian Masse is calling on federal public safety minister Bill Blair to implement a rapid COVID-19 testing pilot project at Windsor's two border crossings.

"The introduction of rapid COVID-19 testing at all our local land border crossings could significantly reduce the public health risks to the residents and border workers by eliminating COVID-19 carriers from crossing the border," Masse said.

He added that the government already has 20 million Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Devices and the pilot project in Windsor could be modelled after a similar project in Coutts, Alberta. Both border staff and people crossing the border would be tested in the voluntary program.

Considering the positivity rate in that project was found to be 1.45 per cent, Masse said that means that 118 potential people with COVID could be crossing into Windsor every day.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

"The men and women that serve us on the border need to have appropriate rapid testing to ensure that ... they can do so to return home at the end of the day to feel more confident and secure about the exposures at the workplace," Masse said.

Masse made the comments at a news conference Wednesday at Windsor's Riverfront accompanied by Customs and Immigration Union Local 18 president Ken Turner, who supports the initiative.

"We think it would be a very valuable tool to enhance the safety of our officers as well as the traveling public," said Turner, adding the union also wants the government to move CBSA officers up the piority list of those getting the vaccine first.

"There's a lot of anxiety and fear in the workplace about what we face, particularly with the asymptomatic people every day, and it's a workforce under stress, no doubt about it," said Turner.

Masse said the rapid test kits could be made available fairly soon, such as in days or weeks.

He said not everyone crossing the border would be tested but they could sign up for a voluntary program.

CBC has requested a comment from Bill Blair.