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Pandemic response hampered by lack of data-sharing, committee hears

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 3:44 pm PST

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, arrives to take part in a press conference on Parliament Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

Experts argue the lack of federal data on the spread of COVID-19 has hampered Canada's response to the pandemic

Canada has struggled to get real-time epidemiological information about the spread of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Experts say difficulties gathering federal data on the spread of COVID-19 has hampered Canada’s response to the pandemic.

The scathing criticism of Canada’s method of gathering crucial information about the number of cases came from several witnesses at the House of Commons health committee today.

Canada has struggled to get real-time epidemiological information about the spread of the novel coronavirus, as well as more detailed information about who it affects the most.

University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman says he’s found the lack of data-sharing among provinces astounding, and that it hurts all Canadians.

University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, who specializes in public health, says the federal government could compel provinces to share their information, but it hasn’t.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the most important thing is that local jurisdictions have the data they need to respond to outbreaks, but has acknowledged there are deficiencies in getting that information at the federal level.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press