TORONTO — Ontario’s premier is calling for a national strategy on contact tracing.
Doug Ford says he spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday about the matter and planned to make the case to his provincial counterparts this week.
“We need a national plan for contact tracing. Right now each individual province is doing it, but we need a national plan, to work with the federal government and all the provinces, the 10 provinces and the three territories,” said Ford.
“It’s absolutely critical moving forward for many reasons.”
A spokesperson for Freeland, Katherine Cuplinskas, said the deputy prime minister agrees that a “united approach” to contact tracing “will be key to a safe, prudent economic re-opening.”
Thorough contact tracing is a labour intensive containment strategy in which each person diagnosed with COVID-19 is not only isolated but questioned about any behaviour that might have caused anyone in their social circle to also be infected.
Along with rigorous testing, it’s widely regarded as a key step to containing future waves or outbreaks as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
Contact tracing is primarily conducted by local public health authorities. But the federal government has been trying to help strengthen the testing and tracing capacities of the provinces and territories.
Ontario’s medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said Monday there would be advantages to a national approach, but acknowledged it is a challenge.
“The full package of the contact management and containment is more the challenging one,” said Williams, referring to the process as akin to “a full police investigation.”
“One of the challenges we have is: Are we going to start opening up where we have inter-provincial travel again? Domestic flights et cetera? (In that case) other provinces want to know: ‘Do you have things to control in Ontario? We’d like to know.’ Or, ‘Do you have things to control in Manitoba, P.E.I., B.C.?’”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2020.