Toronto health board calling to make coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces public

Sep 22 2020, 6:34 pm

Toronto’s Board of Health is calling for workplace COVID-19 outbreak information to be made public by the city’s top doctor.

The motion was unanimously passed during a meeting on Monday. It asked for Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa to “implement a system to publicly share details about workplace outbreaks without compromising individual privacy.”

At the start of the pandemic, Toronto Public Health made information of outbreaks at shelters, long-term care facilities, schools, and childcare centres available to the public.

“Complete transparency. If we’re going to beat this pandemic, that’s what we need,” Councillor and Toronto Board of Health Chair, Joe Cressy, said on Twitter.

“We can’t expect people to adjust their behaviour if they don’t know where transmission’s occurring. And we can’t demand stronger workplace safety without the full picture.”

de Villa has said that workplace outbreaks are one of the contributing factors in the resurgence of local COVID-19 infections. However, she has not specified where the incidents are occurring.

On Monday, de Villa said that Toronto Public Health wants to provide the information for the public but also wishes to keep specific data on those who test positive private for the individuals.

Because of this, the health unit does not want to provide information that would “identify an individual case or their close contacts.”

“At the end of the day, the fundamental goal of public health is to improve the health status of the population and to reduce any inequities in that health status, and insofar as the sharing of relevant information supports that, that is what we seek to do every day,” de Villa said.

“In keeping with the board direction we received this morning, the team at Toronto Public Health and I will be exploring this and I will ask you to stay tuned.”

Other calls made by the board of health were to have saliva-based testing, for the federal Government to improve data management and sharing, and to increase enforcement of the Quarantine Act provisions for international travellers.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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