Ontario Health finalizes second vendor for more on-farm testing in Windsor-Essex

On-site COVID-19 testing for farms in Windsor-Essex is expected to resume this week as Ontario Health finalizes details with a second vendor.

On-farm testing is expected to resume this week

Switch Health's mobile rapid testing unit was sent to swab agri-farm workers in the Windsor-Essex region through a contract provided by the province. (Switch Health Inc.)

On-site COVID-19 testing for farms in Windsor-Essex is expected to resume this week as Ontario Health finalizes details with a second vendor. 

A contract with private mobile testing company Switch Health, which was the first vendor hired by the province to perform testing in the region, has finished after it began at the end of June.

On farm testing is expected to resume sometime this week as Erie Shores Health Care's COVID-19 assessment centre continues to see "high numbers" from the Essex County region, according to Ontario Health. 

Since testing began, the workers on 19 farms have been swabbed, Ontario Health said in an emailed statement Tuesday. 

Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak raised questions about the contract with Switch Health mid-July — his main concern being a pre-existing relationship between Switch lobbyist Jeff Silverstein and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

NDP MPP for Essex Taras Natyshak says there are many red flags when it comes to the Ford government outsourcing COVID-19 testing to private company Switch Health. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Silverstein previously worked as the communications director for the Progressive Conservative party and was responsible for OntarioNewsNow — a platform Ford uses to share updates from his government. 

Additionally, Natyshak said the details of the contract were not made public. 

Natyshak requested auditor general Bonnie Lysyk review the contract in a letter sent July 14. 

In a response dated July 17, and sent to CBC Windsor on July 23, Lysyk said the agreement with Switch Health will be one of many items her and her team look over as part of their COVID-19 Preparedness and Management audit that is assessing how the province spent money on pandemic-related resources. 

Ontario Health said it selected Switch Health out of 15 potential vendors and on Tuesday it confirmed that another group called DriverCheck has also been awarded a contract to perform testing in the province and Windsor-Essex region. 


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