Over 300K rapid tests distributed to B.C. businesses through Safe Screen, province won’t disclose how much it collected in fees

Over 300K rapid tests distributed to B.C. businesses through Safe Screen, province won’t disclose how much it collected in fees
Photo credit: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Nearly two million rapid tests have been distributed to businesses throughout B.C. this year, but it remains unclear how much money the provincial government has collected from its distribution programs.

A total of 1,790,490 rapid tests have been distributed to various businesses across B.C., with 248,315 coming from Safe Screen B.C. program since early January, according to new data provided to CHEK News from the Ministry of Health. CHEK News had previously reported in early January that 539,510 rapid tests had been distributed to businesses in B.C.

Since the province began ordering rapid tests from the federal government in early 2021, businesses in British Columbia have been able to acquire them through either Safe Screen B.C., a fee-based program, or the Provincial Health Services Authority distribution program.

According to the Ministry of Health, the province has distributed a total of 2.33 million rapid tests, including 335,000 tests via Safe Screen B.C., to businesses since spring 2021.

Safe Screen B.C. no longer functions because it merged into the Provincial Health Authority’s (PHSA) Rapid COVID-19 Point of Care program on April 1. It remains unclear exactly how much revenue or fees the province collected from Safe Screen B.C., which charged a “one-time” fee that varied by company size for its services that included “tailored support services to apply for approval to implement a rapid antigen testing program” and access to “direct ordering” of testing kits.

In an e-mailed statement to CHEK News, the Ministry of Health said “PHSA did not collect fees” from the Safe Screen B.C. program. Previously, the Ministry had said there was no revenue generated from the program and that “fees charged by Safe Screen B.C. offset some of the costs associated with operating the program.”

Free rapid tests in B.C. are now far more accessible to individuals than they were at the height of the Omicron wave. For months, B.C. health officials faced repeated criticism over their decision to limit the availability of rapid tests to the public, despite widespread infections throughout the province, all other provinces provided them to their residents for no cost.

A total of 48,377,616 rapid tests have been shipped to B.C. as of April 29, while 22,698,871 have been distributed as of April 22, according to Health Canada’s website.

Editor’s note: For transparency purposes, CHEK News obtained rapid tests via the B.C. government in mid-February.

RELATED: More than 500,000 rapid tests have been distributed to businesses in B.C., data shows

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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