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In accordance with subsections 29(2) and (3) of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, (the “EBR”), there was a decision to rely on the emergency exception in section 29 of the EBR in respect of certain amendments to Regulation 347 made under the Environmental Protection Act (the “EPA”).
Given the high number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks occurring across the province, there is urgency to reducing transmission of COVID-19, especially in high-risk and critical sectors. The regulation is essential to support the implementation of enhanced COVID-19 antigen point-of-care testing at essential workplaces and other locations.
Proactive screening of asymptomatic individuals in these locations will help to identify potential COVID-19 infections that may otherwise not be caught through other testing mechanisms. This will help to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in places where closure or reduced capacity is not a realistic option.
Any delay in implementing the proposed amendments could deter businesses from participating in the program which would result in persons potentially being unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19.
To help get businesses up and running with rapid testing sooner, we are taking steps to make it as easy as possible to implement rapid testing programs, without compromising human health or the environment.
With support and guidance from Public Health Ontario, we have exempted participating businesses in the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative and others from certain administrative requirements usually required for this type of waste.
Businesses would still need to dispose and transport this waste properly to ensure ongoing protection of human health and the environment.
We are working with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario to make sure workplaces receive appropriate guidance and support materials they need to ensure tests are disposed of appropriately.
This includes maintaining ministry requirements to store, handle and maintain the waste so as to prevent leaks or spills, and not store the waste for a period exceeding 24 months. Businesses must also only transfer waste offsite using a registered waste transportation hauler.
Ontario Regulation 339/21 amends Regulation 347 to provide exemptions for generators and carriers of waste generated by COVID-19 antigen point-of-care testing from certain administrative requirements, including registering the waste, and completing manifests in respect of the waste. These amendments are essential to support the enhanced use of COVID-19 antigen point-of-care testing at essential workplaces and other locations in Ontario, without compromising human health or the environment.
The change in the regulation does not remove other provisions associated with the safe handling and management of this hazardous waste. This waste must be transported by a carrier approved to transport this type of waste and sent to a facility approved to accept these types of waste.
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