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Knowledge is Power: So Why is BC Hiding COVID-19 Data?


The BC government claims to be as transparent on the pandemic as any jurisdiction in North America; is this true?

The BC Government has announced it will be removing some of the few remaining protections against Covid-19, despite ongoing uncertainty over the trajectory of current cases and the possibility of new variants. The strong signal to the public, organizations and businesses is that they must make their own risk assessments going forward. However, such assessments are hampered by restrictions on testing of all kinds, along with suppression of data such as case rates, hospitalization numbers, and outbreaks  in schools.

The B.C.’s government’s lack of transparency has led to the Canadian Association of Journalists awarding Premier John Horgan, Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare, and the provincial government of B.C. the  “Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy” in the provincial category. 

Despite calls for greater data collection and transparency, we are seeing these critical public health tools trending in the opposite direction. Reducing and restricting public PCR testing and limiting access to rapid tests means we are in the dark regarding the true case count. Actual hospitalization data is nebulous, with patients admitted for Covid19 still removed from lists when deemed non-infectious despite undergoing treatment. Mortality, as analyzed and reported by Dr. Tara Moriarty, suggests BC might be undercounting deaths by as much as 78%. 

Government and Public Health have a duty to provide information that will provide clarity and timely data for families, business and organizations if they are to make risk assessments for themselves, employees and clients. Without access to public health data, we risk increasing the spread of current and new variants, and increasing distrust in the Government's handling of an ongoing pandemic emergency.

Journalism Professor Sean Holman and reporter Brishti Basu will join this Protect our Province panel on the challenges of obtaining timely data to support media coverage, on BC’s relative lack of public Covid-19 data compared to other provinces, and on the vital and urgent need for transparency in this time of abundant misinformation.

Brishti Basu is a journalist with Capital Daily, primarily covering social issues and the COVID-19 pandemic. Her work has appeared in VICE, the BBC, National Geographic, The Tyee and several other publications.

Sean Holman is Associate Professor and Wayne Crookes Professor of Environmental and Climate Journalism at the University of Victoria, a former investigative journalist, and the founding editor of the pioneering online investigative political news service Public Eye.

The discussion will be facilitated by Kerri Coombs, an independent documentary producer, founder of FireDance Media, PoP BC broadcast technician, and former privacy policy officer in the Freedom of Information unit for Cornwall Council in the UK.

Join Protect our Province BC for Briefing #11: Knowledge is Power: So Why is BC Hiding COVID-19 Data?

When: Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Time: 12:00-1:00 PST

Where: ProtectBC.ca/Livestream

Protect Our Province BC is a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates. We are working together to help people in BC stay safe by sharing accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, and advocating for evidence-based policies. Our ultimate goal is to end this pandemic through a vaccines-plus strategy that includes ventilation, better masks, and improved testing and contact tracing.

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“If we had an epidemic of people with broken limbs and we saw people in plasters and crutches, it would be more evident. But there is a lot of disability that is happening, which is a hidden disability often, which is why we need to talk about it more, for people to understand what the consequences are. And that will help to make better decisions.” - Lynette

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