In British Columbia, public health officials have decreased the quantity and quality of information disclosed about the coronavirus pandemic.
Ontario’s health ministry still releases non-personal case-by-case information. But, in B.C., officials are frustrating reporters seeking the most basic information.
Who is suffering? Where? How was it spread? How many tests are in the backlog?
Also, the information and privacy commissioner gave provincial and municipal government offices and agencies carte blanche to take up to 90 business days to answer freedom of information requests during the public health emergency.
This deeply concerns Sean Holman, professor of journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary and one of Canada’s foremost researchers into the way governments manage and manipulate information.
“We are in a democracy, we are not in a dictatorship,” Holman told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin on this week’s edition. “Governments need to involve people in decision-making that is happening right now, as difficult as that may be. The population deserves to know what their government knows, especially at a time of crisis to evaluate whether or not their governments are making the right decisions for the safety of all.”
Why is transparency so important? Holman said it is because the public needs to evaluate whether or not public bodies are doing their jobs to protect us from the disease. Without transparency, there is a heightened risk of disinformation and mixed messages leading to confusion and chaos.
“If people can get a better sense about how much infection there is in their local geographic area, they can act accordingly and we really do want people to, in this time of crisis, be acting in accordance to the risk around them,” he said. “We want people to be self-isolating, we want people to be socially distancing, we want people to be thinking about the larger community, as opposed to thinking about their own individual safety. By disclosing that type of information, we can allow for those kinds of measures.”
Also on this edition, a recap of the week’s major announcements impacting the west coast. Hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump, Premier John Horgan, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
A trip in the podcast time machine, back to Expo 86. Hear clips of the late Kenny Rogers at the Expo 86 Royal Gala, attended by Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Plus commentaries and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.
CLICK BELOW to listen or go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe.
Have you missed an edition of theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.
- Looking for information on how to keep yourself and others healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic? Do you have symptoms? Click here for all you need to know, from HealthLinkBC.
Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.