free rapid tests ontario

Ontario is going to start giving out free rapid tests at the LCBO

Free rapid tests are coming to the LCBO in Ontario.

Yes, your pre-weekend shopping is about to get a bit easier, but that Friday lineup at the local LCBO might be a lot longer, all thanks to a new plan designed to increase the public's access to take-home rapid tests in Ontario.

The province announced Wednesday that it would be utilizing crown corporation the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to roll out free rapid antigen tests in the face of growing calls to increase accessibility for the screening kits, currently being offered for $40 at pharmacies.

Instead of lining up at your local drug store, the free tests are being paired with a different class of drugs, to be made available for any member of the public at select LCBO locations across the province.

"We're making millions of rapid tests available to the general public," the premier said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"Today we launched our holiday testing blitz. We started handing out rapid tests to people in high-traffic areas," Ford said, mentioning malls, shopping centres, Christmas markets, and transit hubs as initial pop-up sites. 

"And we're now adding LCBOs as pickup locations with tests being deployed this week, starting with the top 100 stores and more locations being added from there," said the premier, the Toronto Star reporting that 660 LCBO locations are planned for the blitz.

Some are drawing comparisons to Doug Ford's infamous buck-a-beer scheme, while others are noticing a trend in his policy.

Though many find the combination of a public health campaign and a liquor store to be an odd match, a few have been quick to point out that there it's a provincially-owned entity with locations practically everywhere.

Sure, it seems strange to go to the liquor store with health in mind, but one could argue that the LCBO is a pretty good option for mass provincial distribution of test kits. Though the decision isn't sitting so well with teetotalers.

Aside from the LCBO locations, Ontarians can find rapid screening pop-up sites in their area by visiting

Increased access to testing is just one of many frantic public health measures being rolled out on the municipal, provincial, and federal levels as case counts skyrocket around the country and the new variant stokes fears of another catastrophic wave.

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