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UBC policy professor calls for politicians to take accountability for B.C.'s COVID data leak

Last Updated May 9, 2021 at 3:47 pm PDT

FILE - Health Minister Adrian Dix. (Courtesy B.C. Government, Flickr)
Summary

Elected officials have yet to make a statement about leaked COVID-19 data

Public policy professor says able to ask questions of elected public officials contributes to a sense of accountability

Data leaked shows transmission and vaccination rates at a neighbourhood level

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Days after leaked reports revealed that B.C. has more COVID-19 data than it’s been sharing, one expert suggests it may be a good idea for politicians to address questions about the leak – instead of leaving up to B.C’s top doctor.

Elected officials have yet to make a statement after leaked data revealed COVID case counts and vaccinations according to neighbourhoods, showing among other things that areas with high transmission rates have the lowest rates of vaccination.

UBC public policy professor, Heidi Tworek says this falls in line with how the province has handled the pandemic.

“Bonnie Henry has been the major face, and then I suppose this just raises the question of, at what point is that still reasonable? Or at what point are people in British Columbia expecting some answers from politicians as well,” she said.

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Being able to ask questions of elected public officials contributes to a sense of accountability, Tworek said. Adding, “If the person is not available, without explanation, that can potentially undermine some of the trust in the provinces response, and a feeling that there are things going on behind the scenes one doesn’t necessarily know about.

“But it’s always in general true, that greater transparency can at least help to prevent some of the sort of online chatter and speculation.”

Tworek said that there’s a legitimate concern about preserving people’s privacy when there’s very few cases, however, as the number of cases increased, the type of data the province could make available would change over time.

“I think what we’re seeing also, is a debate about the fact that this is now a 14-month pandemic, and what one learns from that, and how agile we are with data in the province,” she said.