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Saskatchewan seeing COVID-19 testing business boom

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan seeing COVID-19 testing business boom' Saskatchewan seeing COVID-19 testing business boom
WATCH: The number of companies offering COVID-19 rapid testing ballooned in just a few months. – Nov 23, 2021

Brie Ford says the company she works for is filling a vital need in the community – providing COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

“We were looking in Melville for options for our staff members to get the tests done because they have to provide them for employment,” she said, telling Global News they decided to take on the task themselves.

Fossum Electrics, at which she is the operations manager, is now offering COVID-19 tests to the public.

Read more: COVID-19 rapid antigen tests: Everything you need to know

Though they just started last week, she says the company is providing between 20 and 25 tests a week so far.

Ever since the Saskatchewan government opened the doors to private companies, construction firms, an oilfield, even a Ukrainian dance studio now offers the quick tests, according to the Saskatchewan Government’s website.

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There is also a swath of businesses with names that include words you’d probably expect on a testing site, words like “clinic” and “testing.”

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Canada officially scraps PCR test requirement for short trips to U.S – Nov 19, 2021

Global News contacted several construction or welding firms to ask why the business owners decided to start offering the services. They declined interviews.

One owner of a new testing business is also the treasurer for a group that tried to launch an injunction against the Saskatchewan government’s proof-of-vaccination measure.

A Queen’s Bench judge struck down the application.

Kayla Roesch, in a phone interview, said she saw the emerging need for testing.

“I wanted to make testing available and affordable for everyone. I am testing vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” she said.

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Read more: High COVID-19 demand in some Saskatchewan hospitals still delaying some health care

She said none of her clients had expressed any hesitancy about her testing them.

The Saskatchewan government requires six things from businesses that wish to offer antigen testing.

Test providers must:

  • use tests approved by Health Canada
  • have every staff member that administers the test complete the online course (which includes some email interaction with government officials)
  • have a corporate website that displays the fees
  • have a documented process for referring clients who test positive to Healthline 811.
  • document and provide all tests to the Saskatchewan Health Authority every week
  • issue certificates with the testing information

Roughly 70 companies now offer testing services in more than 50 municipalities across Saskatchewan – though not all offices are open every day. The count does not include test drop-off sites.

Read more: Tech issues with Saskatchewan COVID-19 vaccine booking system resolved

An established tester and registered nurse told Global News she’s concerned the businesses now offering the services may not have the needed medical expertise.

“If you don’t have that background,” Shirley Galloway said, “it’s difficult to answer some of those very pointed science questions.”

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Galloway is the president of Nobel HSSE Ltd., one of the first companies to offer testing in Saskatchewan. She said her staff is comprised of people with medical and scientific knowledge because they’re all biochemists, medical lab technologists and the like.

Speaking from Oxbow, Sask., she said more testing is definitely a good thing, but she was envisioning labs and clinics taking on the role.

In a statement, the health ministry says it works with the public safety agency to address any issues with testing sites.

“Public health inspectors from the SHA would follow up on concerns regarding public health violations should they be made, as they would for any public health concern for any business providing service to the public,” it stated.

The health ministry also said anyone who tests positive should contact 8-1-1.

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