QUEEN’S PARK – Doug Ford needs to release the $9 billion in funds for fighting COVID-19 that cities like Ottawa need now, said Joel Harden, NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre.
“This government had all summer to prepare for the second wave, but they left Ottawa high and dry as our COVID case numbers spiked over the fall," said Harden.
Last week’s auditor general’s report revealed that Ottawa had the longest wait times in the province for COVID-19 test results during September and October. During these two months, the average time it took for case management to begin after a person tested positive was 4.5 days.
“Not only did this fail to meet the ministry’s own targets for case management,” said Harden. “It may have led to further exposure and spreading of the virus, according to the auditor general.
“It should have come as no surprise to this government that testing capacity was not sufficient to meet demand. The auditor general wrote that the need for more testing capacity was raised by experts and her own office for years, but no action was taken.”
Harden said laboratory technicians worked flat out to process results, but they didn't get the support they needed from the Ford government. As Michelle Hoad, CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association noted, lab technicians were undermined by staffing shortages, paper-based lab information systems, insufficient instrumentation and supply chain issues.
“Will Doug Ford stop trying to save a buck by shortchanging Ottawa? When will his government release the $9 billion in COVID fighting funds so we can get this virus under control?” Harden said.