rapid covid test

Ontario government plans to track down and punish people who resell COVID rapid tests

If you find a rapid COVID test for sale somewhere other than a legit pharmacy right now — say, on Kijij or outside your local corner store — the provincial government would like a word.

More specifically, Ontario's Minister of Government and Consumer Services wants you to report any shady rapid antigen test (RAT) sellers so that they can be investigated and, if appropriate, fined for violating the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

"It's deplorable to see bad actors reselling rapid test kits provided free of charge by the provincial government," said Minister Ross Romano on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, presumably after hearing about people reselling the hard-to-get free RAT tests being distributed in public centres this week.

"We're working to identify, track down, and fine anyone who takes advantage of Ontarians by price gouging!"

Those who suspect something's up with a rapid antigen seller can either call a provincial hotline to file a complaint (1-800-889-9768) or report them through the province's dedicated "price gouging related to coronavirus" portal.

RAT tests are becoming an increasingly hot commodity as concerns mount surrounding the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Those looking to use the test, which takes just 15 minutes, to put their minds at ease before going out to socialize are having to wait in long lineups to get them for free from the government — though experts are cautioning people not to trust a negative result

With a seeming inability for anyone to get a more reliable PCR test in Toronto right now, many are turning to the rapid antigen tests nonetheless for some peace of mind, if they can find a pop-up and arrive before the tests are all gone.

The LCBO, which was distributing free rapid tests starting last weekend, ran out of their entire supply in just over a day.

With reports (and evidence) swirling that people have been hoarding tests to resell them for a hefty profit, the government is on high alert. Apparently.

"We are proactively working to identify, track down, and fine any businesses and individuals who may be in breach of our government's emergency order which prohibits charging unfair prices for necessary goods," said Minister Romano in a formal statement on Tuesday.

"While we recognize that the vast majority of businesses and individuals do not participate in this unconscionable behaviour, our government has implemented enhanced measures to address this issue and hold those who engage in it accountable."

Individuals caught reselling free test kits can be subject to a fine of up to $750 for contravening the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

"In more serious cases, retailers or individuals may be charged with an offence and, if convicted, could be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for up to one year," reads the government's price gouging website.

"Officers or directors of corporations who are charged and convicted may be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for up to one year. Corporations charged and convicted could be fined up to $10 million."

Lead photo by

David Jacobs

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