Kenney to start providing more rapid tests to Albertans, after NDP school demand


Premier Jason Kenney said Alberta will start distributing more COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, amid calls to send them home with kids at Christmas.

The NDP wants the province to give each student in the province five tests from Alberta’s stockpile to take home over the holidays.

“Knowing if you’re positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms, can ensure everyone has the quick and proper information to make informed decisions around their holiday plans,” NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman said Thursday.

On Friday, Kenney revealed an announcement will be made next week to distribute more tests, but didn’t provide specifics.

Alberta has about 5.5 million stockpiled tests that were sent from the federal government.

The province has reserved their use for frontline workers, long-term care residents, non-profit groups, and during school outbreaks.

“We haven’t had to use all those tests that we have, and we can look at a wider distribution,” Kenney said, adding that 5.5 million won’t go very far in a province of about 4.3 million people.

“We are concerned that when that (increased distribution) starts fully, we won’t have adequate supply. Which is why we urge the federal government to accelerate, through Health Canada, the approval of a larger number of easy-to-use rapid antigen test kits.”


Across the province, 140 schools were on alert or outbreak status Friday, meaning they had at least 2 cases of COVID-19.

St. Albert Public also had four schools on outbreak alert, with at least 10 cases in each.

It takes an average of three days for a school with an outbreak to receive the tests from the province, a spokesperson from that division said Friday, and some parents have expressed concern with that delay.

“We’re coming into Christmas and nobody wants to be sick and nobody wants to be spreading COVID to their families,” Paula Power told CTV News Edmonton.

“The sooner we can give (families) that piece of mind, I think, the better. A two or three day wait to get those rapid tests is not overwhelming, however if we had them in the schools ready to go at our own discretion, that would be amazing.”

Alberta Health said 850,000 rapid tests have been distributed to schools with outbreaks so far.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has promised to distribute another 35 million tests across the country this month.

Kenney wouldn’t yet provide details on how those will be distributed, but he said Friday that travellers should have to pay for their own tests.

“If people want to get PCR testing for travelling purposes, it’s reasonable that they should bear that cost,” he said.

Alberta Health officials said the majority of the province’s current rapid test supply will expire in 2023.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson and CTV News Calgary’s Teri Fikowski

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