We need to know what’s happening in our community.
Regardless of what’s happening on the global COVID front there’s really only one thing that people want to know: what’s happening near me. What is the risk if I’m shopping, or riding the bus, or sending my kids to school?
The British Columbia health authorities have this information — or at least they should have it — so why are they keeping it secret?
Our local community newspaper spent months trying to convince the Province to give them COVID statistics for North Vancouver instead of lumping us into the province-wide total. Even when the Public Health office backed down we were given numbers for a large and varied part of the province, not the municipality focused numbers that we need.
When schools returned in September there were immediate COVID infections at several West Vancouver Schools. Those outbreaks have continued more or less continuously for two months yet Dr Bonnie Henry insists that the Kelowna school outbreak in October was the first in the province.
Parents in West Van had simple questions about the COVID in their children’s schools: what grade level was the student, and were their siblings being kept home along with the student who had tested positive? The answer repeatedly was “we won’t tell you” and “No.”
It was only after one parent launched a Facebook group, and after parents started reporting their own children’s COVID diagnoses and circulating the vague warning letters from schools, that it became apparent that the problem was bigger than Vancouver Coastal Health claimed, and that there was little chance that the official channels would open up.
Other countries, and even other provinces, are open with their COVID data. They understand that it’s critical that their citizenry know what’s happening in their own homes, workplaces, and schools. More importantly in an emergency like this, reliable information is one of the most important tools for building a trust in the government entities that are hoping to manage the pandemic. If your citizens don’t believe you they are far less likely to accept whatever restrictions are needed.
Instead, in BC, we’re told less than the bare minimum under the guise of “privacy regulations.” Such a pathetic excuse for such an egregious lack of transparency.
What we need is obvious. How many COVID cases in my town? In my kid’s school? And for the latter, which class and what grade level? Without this minimal information all we can do is hope, pray, and guess.