VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The BC Liberals want much more COVID-19 data from the provincial government — and they want it released to the public every day.
The critics for health and education have written to the Health Minister Adrian Dix and Education Minister Jennifer Whitside saying, “we are writing to express our deep concern about the lack of transparency concerning the public reporting of COVID-19 data by your government.”
Opposition critic for health, Renee Merrifield, says more data will allow British Columbians to make informed decisions about their health, noting people are getting and sharing information from a number of unofficial sources.
“We’ve noted that information is coming from the journalists, we’ve got it coming from Facebook, we have it coming from social media, when really — it’s the government that we need to see it from,” she says.
“We want to understand more granular aspects of the data to really understand how we can best support those communities in need.”
The letter notes the opposition critics are not the first or only ones calling for more data to be released.
“Parents are asking for more information so they can make the best possible decisions for their children’s education. Families are asking for more information so they can make sure they are providing the best possible care for elderly parents and grandparents. Data helps shape people’s understanding of this pandemic, it serves as a tool to help inform people’s decision-making,” it reads.
The Liberals are calling for the release of daily figures of how many vaccines have been delivered, and how many rapid tests have been done in each of the province’s health regions. They also want a daily breakdown of how many tests have been billed to MSP, and how many have been privately paid for.
The @bcliberals pressinggov for more #covid19 data on tests (rapid test totals & private – like film industry [this part is supposed on surveillance reports now]), vaccinations (daily total/authority) & race info (DBH has said system makes this challenging))#bcpoli @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/u6K3cIHabk
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) January 11, 2021
Currently, daily case counts are broken down by health region — but Merrifield wants to see a much more detailed breakdown of who is testing positive and where.
“We also want to see detailed daily case breakdowns for schools, identified by staff or student populations. We want to see daily case breakdowns for long-term care home and assisted living facilities, daily breakdowns for healthcare facilities identified by doctors, nurses, health care worker populations, etc.” she tells NEWS 1130.
Merrifield acknowledges a recent change where information about outbreaks in long-term and healthcare facilities will be released weekly, but says that doesn’t go far enough.
“We think it should be done daily. Week by week it’s just too long for people to really react in any intelligent way,” she says.
The letter also demands race-based data be released, “to help better understand the impacts of the virus on racialized communities and marginalized populations.”
This echoes a call from advocates and experts who have been saying that — without the data — it’s impossible to address the disproportionate and unequal impacts of the virus.
With files from Liza Yuzda