COVID-19 Testing at Regional Farms



On.June.9, under the direction of Ontario Health, Erie Shores HealthCare led a coalition of local health system partners to begin a Targeted Testing Initiative for workers in the Agri-Food industry. An "Agri-food Worker Assessment Centre" was created at a local recreation complex, with a process designed to test up to 700 workers per day.

Resulting from employer concerns regarding transportation, this initiative was extended in the pilot form to an "On-Farm" trial on June 20 at a local volunteer Greenhouse operation.


  • Initial preparatory arrangements were completed by ESHC, Ontario Health, and OMAFRA.
  • Follow up logistics completed by ESHC and Essex-Windsor EMS.
  • Set up: 1.5 hours; Takedown: 1 hour
  • Swabbing: 75-80 per hour (versus 100-125 per hour at Agri-food Worker Assessment Centre)
  • 40 staff required for a single location as a result of the need for continuous cooling breaks.
  • The staff comprised of members from local hospitals (Erie Shores Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital, and Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare), Ontario Health West Region, Erie St. Clair LHIN Home and Community Care, and EMS, with the assistance of interpreters from the Migrant Worker Community Program.

Two additional farms have confirmed interest in on-site testing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Testing of Agri-food employees of the 176 identified farms in the region will require pro-active efforts by employers to either attend an Assessment Centre or agree to an on-site testing opportunity. We will continue to provide as much access to service as possible to facilitate the process for those employers who are taking initiative to ensure their employees are tested.

Based on the pilot, it is evident that on-farm testing can be completed but will require resources currently outside of the existing local infrastructure. Expansive testing in the 'on-farm' setting will require multiple teams at multiple farms functioning simultaneously with additional translators and cooling stations. We, as local health partners continue to collaborate with Ontario Health to design models of delivery which will be both effective and efficient.

The health care partners continue to advise all levels of government of needs to house/shelter workers who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic and do not require active clinical care. As this is beyond the mandate, scope and available resources of hospitals and other local health care organizations, it is hoped that municipal, provincial and/or federal representatives can coordinate a solution for accommodations of these workers. In addition, the relevant municipal and provincial agencies need to continue working together to ensure positive COVID-19 employees are following self-isolation requirements.

In addition to this initiative, ESHC and Essex Windsor EMS continue to mobilize our outreach health assessment team to visit COVID positive agri-food workers in isolation to offer them ongoing access to healthcare. At the same time, the existing COVID-19 Assessment Centres at Windsor Regional Hospital (Ouellette Campus) and Erie Shores Healthcare in Leamington will remain open. Hours at both locations are Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm and Saturday-Sunday, 9 am to 4 pm.