Mayor calls on premier to intervene and force mandatory testing of migrant workers
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens called Ontario Premier Doug Ford late Sunday, asking for provincial leadership to deal with the “explosion” of COVID-19 in the migrant worker population.
“I don’t think the health unit is plugged in enough on this issue,” he says.
Dilkens wants the province to mandate testing of migrant workers in Essex County greenhouses, similar to how there was mandatory testing in long term care homes.
“There’s an opportunity, locally, for officials to show leadership to get us over the hump. That’s not happening,” says Dilkens.
He believes Windsor Regional Hospital has done all it can to encourage migrant workers to get tested by establishing an assessment centre at Erie Shores Healthcare.
“It’s all voluntary they have hardly any people there,” he adds.
In response, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says it’s up to Public Health Ontario (OPH) to rollout mandatory testing.
He says the assessment centre in Leamington is a joint project of OPH and local hospitals and the health unit only gets involved if one of the cases come back positive.
“I don’t think the public health unit is at any stage to make it mandatory,” according to Ahmed.
“If there is a need from the industry, from the health system partners if they are thinking about that, if they are thinking it has to be mandated I think that conversation has to happen at the appropriate level.”
Ahmed also says they would assist PHO with mandatory testing, if called upon to help.
Ford talked about the migrant workers while announcing Monday that Windsor-Essex will not be advancing to Stage 2 of reopening.
Ford says he wants to be clear it’s not the migrant workers’ fault.
“They came here, they self-isolated for two weeks and they picked it up since they've been here,” says Ford. “So I don't want any finger pointing at these hard-working migrant workers. They're good people, they mean well, and they're hard workers too.”