Ontario Premier Doug Ford just spilled the beans about his government’s next planned measure to combat the pandemic: Testing people for COVID-19 at Shopper’s Drug Mart.
While it’s not a sure thing just yet, Ford said during a regularly-scheduled press conference Monday afternoon that the province is currently in discussions with the Loblaw-owned retail pharmacy chain to begin testing asymptomatic customers.
“We’ve been discussing this for a little while now and we’ve reached out to Shoppers Drug Mart, the CEO of Loblaw that owns Shoppers as well, and they’re being very cooperative so I might as well just come out and say it,” Ford said during the press conference.
“Galen Weston, you’ve been very cooperative,” continued Ford of the retail conglomerate’s executive chairman, who belongs to the third- richest family in Canada with a net worth of at least $13.55 billion.
“He offered to help any way he can and we appreciate it,” said Ford of the billionaire business scion, who recently took heat for taking a $2 pandemic pay bump away from his minimum-wage employees.
“That’s the Ontario spirit, stepping up to the plate… I just want to give Galen a shout-out there.”
It is not immediately clear when COVID-19 testing would be rolled out at Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario, or how wide-spread the service would be.
In Alberta, Shoppers piloted the program with health officials at select locations before deciding to roll it out widely.
By Sept. 1, asymptomatic testing will be available all 234 stores in the province owned by Loblaw, including Shoppers, Real Canadian Superstore, City Market and No Frills.
Ontarians may soon be able to get tested for COVID-19 while picking up their groceries, but not today. Fortunately, 146 assessment centres are available across the province for this very purpose — and without the temptations of pretty things on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart.