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Editorial: B.C. health leaders need to focus more on disease control and less on message control

The idea that “we’re all in this together” is both true and profoundly not true.
Bonnie Henry
Dr. Bonnie Henry says BC residents will have access to data related to coronavirus (COVID-19) in communities starting April 12, 2021, from the BC CDC.

The past 14 months have seen the government exert huge control over many aspects of our lives in efforts to control a public health emergency. Most of those measures require a strong buy-in from the public. In return, we expect our government and health officials to level with us. We expect to be treated like adults and to get the information that we require as citizens to assess whether those measures are appropriate.

As recent leaked data from the B.C. CDC shows, however, that’s not what we’ve been getting.

Among the tidbits the government felt we didn’t need to know: neighbourhood case rates, positivity rates and vaccinations rates, which shows quite graphically how the pandemic has hit different areas to widely varying degrees. The idea that “we’re all in this together” is both true and profoundly not true.

It’s the same type of information that reporters have been requesting in freedom of information requests – and been routinely denied – for over a year.

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s claim that all this information has already been available simply isn’t true. (The red statements on the reports reading “Public health use only, not for public distribution” might have been a clue.)

The justifications for keeping us in the dark – privacy, lack of resources – just don’t stand up, especially in light of the kinds of information available in other jurisdictions. As we enter these (hopefully) final months of the pandemic, it is critical that our public health leaders focus more on disease control and less on message control.

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