COVID-19 rapid testing and screening in workplaces: Rapid antigen tests for screening
On this page
- Increasing the availability of rapid antigen tests
- Types of tests
- Implementing a screening program in your workplace
Increasing the availability of rapid antigen tests
The Government of Canada is increasing the availability of rapid antigen test kits for Canadian workers through the Rapid Testing for COVID-19 Screening in the Workplace initiative.
This initiative complements provincial and territorial activities. Its goal is to:
- increase the availability of rapid antigen tests as a screening tool for Canadian workers
- help Canadian organizations better protect their employees and customers
- provide an additional tool to reduce community transmission and keep the economy running
The use of rapid antigen tests as a screening tool is another layer of protection. It's not a substitute for other public health measures. These include mask wearing, hand hygiene, physical distancing, proper ventilation, getting the COVID-19 vaccine and using the COVID Alert app.
Types of tests
There are 2 kinds of tests: diagnostic and screening tests.
Diagnostic tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, can confirm if someone has COVID-19, with results available in 24 to 48 hours.
Screening, through the use of rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs, or rapid antigen tests), can potentially identify positive cases earlier (within 15 minutes) to help reduce the spread of the virus and prevent outbreaks. When used regularly, rapid antigen tests may help identify individuals who may be infectious early on. Individuals can be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic but still carry the virus and may transmit it to others.
Those receiving a positive rapid antigen test result should seek a PCR test as soon as possible for a confirmatory diagnosis. This also allows local public health authorities to identify the nature of the virus and track variants of concern. Please follow all isolation and quarantine advice given by public health officials while you wait for test results.
Implementing a screening program in your workplace
Workplace screening initiatives are easy to put in place and testing is easy to do. Many provinces and territories have also adapted regulations to make it easier for employers. Hundreds of organizations have implemented workplace screening initiatives and many more are coming on board every day.
To put a workplace screening program in place, you can use the following resources to help implement your screening program:
- Creative Destruction Lab Rapid Screening Consortium
- Communitech’s Staysafe at Work: A guide for workplace screening
- Kitchener/Waterloo Cambridge Chamber pilot
You must follow the regulations of your province or territory. This is because the individuals authorized to administer rapid antigen tests differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Some provinces also have specific guidance on rapid antigen testing:
- British Columbia Rapid COVID-19 Point of Care Screening Program
- Alberta Rapid Testing Program
- Saskatchewan Test to Protect Program
- Manitoba Rapid Testing Program
- Ontario considerations for antigen point-of-care testing
- Ontario Antigen Screening Program resources (training material for self-collection and best practices for PCR testing)
- Quebec guidance for use of rapid tests by companies (COVID-19)
In addition, manufacturers of rapid antigen tests provide support. For example:
- Abbott provides support to all testing sites across Canada at no cost, including:
- virtual training sessions through Webex to sites that need extra support
- training sessions that cover intended use, kit contents, specifications, test preparation, test procedure and result interpretation
- BD Veritor provides product training, including:
- on-demand e-learning and videos
- personalized training through their customer support team
This page will be updated as additional best practices and guidance are identified.
- COVID-19 provincial testing guidance update, Ontario Ministry of Health
- British Columbia CDC training resources for point of care (POC) screening
- Testing for COVID-19: Increasing testing supply
- How business and employees can stay safe while operating during COVID-19
- Testing devices for COVID-19
- Off-label advertising and sale of rapid antigen tests under workplace screening program: Interim enforcement approach
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