THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO ~~~~~ November 14, 2020 (LSN) Several days ago, a member of Thunder Bay City council raised the issue of asking the Thunder Bay District Health Unit for a more detailed breakdown of location when it came to the reporting of COVID-19 cases.
In particular, the councilor in question wanted the numbers and cases just for Thunder Bay alone reported separate from its surrounding communities given that with a population of 109,000, there was no real way of ascertaining identities and he felt it would be helpful for residents to know. While one might be tempted to conclude it was simply a slow evening at City Council, in fact this has become more of an issue in recent days given the spike in cases.
The councilor in question has a point. At present, the TBDHU provides only the broadest of descriptions of where individuals reside and the circumstances around the exposure. At the same time, the TBDHU has actually been announcing specific locations associated with outbreaks within the region when necessary – a case in point this week as 17 COVID-19 cases were connected to the Adult Teen and Challenge facilities in Thunder Bay. However, a breakdown of location to Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Surrounding Area, District Communities and First Nation Communities does not appear to be a violation of privacy laws. Moreover, when travel is mentioned as a source of the infection, it would be helpful to know if it was travel within northern Ontario, travel outside northern Ontario but within the province of Ontario, inter-provincial travel or international travel.
While the councilor’s call for more information is laudable, he is in some respects being inconsistent - to say the least. After all, along with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, Thunder Bay is also experiencing a pandemic of plumbing and water line leaks which may be linked to the introduction of sodium hydroxide into city water in 2016 to mitigate lead. Despite numerous pleas for assistance and information, the City of Thunder Bay has provided no information as to the extent of the problem, how many homes have been affected, or what neighborhoods are most affected. Such information might help homeowners know if they are at greater risk of leaks than others and take mitigating steps but instead, we are all being left to social media to acquire information. If the City of Thunder Bay was managing COVID-19 information in this manner, more people would die.
If the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in the face of mounting cases of infection refused to provide any information whatsoever, it would be seen as irresponsible and contributing to the spread of the disease and its mortality and morbidity. However, in the case of pinhole leaks in Thunder Bay, the City is collecting information and shares nothing. The councilor who raised the issue of more information from the District Health Unit has a double standard. What is good for the goose is good for the gander and he should advocate for the people paying the taxes that support his role as a councilor.
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