Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

NDP to Ford: Come clean now on Switch contract – and what’s gone wrong

Published on July 23, 2020

Testing stalled among migrant workers

ESSEX — Ontario’s Auditor General has confirmed she’ll be looking into a secret deal the Ford government signed to contract out COVID-19 testing in the Windsor-Essex region. But the NDP says Doug Ford better come clean on the deal right now – including any problems with the contract – since it seems like testing on farms in the region has stalled completely.

Switch Health, a for-profit private corporation with deep Ford Conservative ties, was given public money to manage COVID-19 testing at agribusinesses where COVID-19 has torn through groups of migrant workers, killing three and infecting hundreds. On July 6, the government confirmed that testing for the virus had been done on 19 of 175 farms in the region. On July 21, the government confirmed to CBC Windsor that the number was stalled at 19.

“Doug Ford’s failure to test and isolate migrant farm workers has not only allowed these folks to get sick – it has also forced our region’s struggling small businesses and workers to stay on lockdown even longer,” said Taras Natyshak, the NDP MPP for Essex. “Only testing 19 of 175 farms up until July 6 was a disturbing choice by the Ford government. Testing zero farms in the past 15 days is unthinkable. People, businesses and agribusinesses here need help, and Ford has abandoned them.”

Switch Health registered Jeff Silverstein in April to lobby Ford for a piece of the COVID-19 testing. Silverstein is the former executive director of PC Party Caucus Services, and creator of Ford’s infamous propaganda channel, Ontario News Now.

“This deal always looked like a favour to a buddy at the expense of a proper, fully coordinated testing strategy in Windsor-Essex,” said Natyshak. “Now, it looks like it’s gone horribly wrong – and families and businesses in our region are paying the price.”