Ottawa councillors can’t solve COVID-19 testing crunch, so they press for better communications

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Another west-end councillor, Theresa Kavanagh of Bay ward, said she was afraid of creating an “avalanche” by publicizing the pop-up site.

At a council meeting later in the week, Coun. Riley Brockington said he received no notification about the pop-up site, which, unlike the larger assessment sites, wasn’t organized by the hospitals.

While oversight for the testing regime flows back to the provincial government through the local and regional health organizations, there is now the potential for the federal government to play a role in testing Ottawa residents, potentially adding another complication to the communications regime.

After Coun. Carol Anne Meehan inquired about the prospect of a testing site in the southern suburbs, Watson said during a council meeting Wednesday that the federal government, not the province, was looking into the possibility.

All of the observations are pointing to the immediate need to have a central location for people to quickly find information about testing sites and general information about who’s in charge.

The chair of the Ottawa Public Health board, Coun. Keith Egli, called for a “one-stop shop” for testing information during the health board meeting after hearing a presentation from Cameron Love, CEO of The Ottawa Hospital and co-chair of the COVID-19 response committee.

Why not make a single website with all of the local testing details, Egli asked.

Between the health board and council meetings, both Love and Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health, agreed there’s an urgency to make testing information available to the public in an easily accessible central location.