Where are COVID cases? New lobby group fighting for the information | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Where are COVID cases? New lobby group fighting for the information

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Government of B.C.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s refusal to tell us where most of the COVID-19 cases are in B.C. is something that needs to change.

That's one of the reasons a national lobby organization called the Canadian COVID-19 Accountability Group was formed and is calling on all levels of government in the country to openly share more information about the pandemic along with other things they do.

“On the Sunshine Coast, where I live, people think there’s no infections because no cases were recorded,” Pamela Forward, president of Whistleblowing Canada Research Society, told iNFOnews.ca today, May 27.

She said there was a Facebook post about there being no cases on the Sunshine Coast which sparked a social media debate about the need to take precautions.

Her organization – which has been lobbying for protection for whistleblowers since the 1990s but was only incorporated formally a year ago – joined the national lobbying group in an effort not only to deal with COVID-19 issues but to open governments up to being more receptive to providing information to the public.

The Canadian COVID-19 Accountability Group wants laws put in place to force governments and other bodies to release things like health and safety inspection reports, public health research and government contracts.

It’s important, for example, to know who is being paid to provide personal protective equipment during the pandemic, Forward said. While the group hasn’t researched whether that information is currently available, they want to make sure that, if asked, government will readily provide it.

It also wants strong federal legislation to protect whistleblowers who report public or private sector wrongdoing.

While Forward isn’t suggesting, for example, that there are problems with agencies like the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, she is saying that the attitude of governments in general to freedom of information requests is to find reasons not to release information. That leaves the whole system open to corruption.

A news release from the group says it’s made up of “former whistleblowers and prominent accountability experts from the fields of academia, law, policing and journalism."

While it’s urgent to make these changes now, Forward said there has to be a fundamental change going forward.

Go here for more information, the group.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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