Trudeau says coronavirus projections for Canada will be shared in ‘coming days’

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says releasing range of scenarios ‘not as useful’ as clear COVID-19 data'
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says releasing range of scenarios ‘not as useful’ as clear COVID-19 data
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to explain why his government has not yet released COVID-19 infection models yet, despite other countries doing so, telling reporters that releasing a range of scenarios would “not be as useful” as gathering clear data on how the novel coronavirus may continue to infect Canadians – Apr 2, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will release “in the coming days” its projections of how many people could die from the novel coronavirus pandemic in Canada.

That comes as Ontario released its projections for a two-year time span for the pandemic and the potential for 1,600 Ontarians to be dead by the end of the month despite the measures in place.

That’s compared to the potential death toll of 6,000 by the end of the month if there were none.

READ MORE: Ontario projects just under 1,600 COVID-19 deaths, 80,000 cases by end of April

Countries around the world and several Canadian provinces have moved in recent days to share their best- and worst-case projections for potential death tolls from the virus.

As a result, Trudeau has faced growing calls for the federal government to share its own modelling given the extraordinary demands being placed on Canadians to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

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READ MORE: As more provinces, countries share coronavirus scenarios, Trudeau tells Canadians: wait

But he has not committed to a specific date for that release, saying officials are still working with the provinces to get better-quality data to inform those models.

“There are things we will be sharing with Canadians but we need to make sure we have a better grasp on the data before we put projections out there,” he said.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu also reiterated on Friday that those models will be coming shortly but cautioned they are not exact and rather a “best estimate” of what could happen.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.'
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Trudeau has insisted that releasing projection models is not as useful as sharing hard information, but his refusal so far to share best- and worst-case scenarios has prompted criticism and calls to change.

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Among those voices was former health minister Jane Philpott, who Trudeau kicked out of the Liberal caucus last year for raising concerns about his handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

She tweeted on Thursday that “this is not the time to hide bad news” and urged the government to offer “radical transparency” for Canadians.

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also called for the release of the data on Friday morning.

“Mr. Trudeau says his government is being guided by the evidence,” he said. “It’s time to release that evidence.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau  to release COVID-19 projections'
Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The B.C. government shared its best- and worst-case forecasts roughly two weeks ago, along with the projected potential shortfalls in resources like intensive care beds.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney offered partial insight into that province’s projections Thursday night in the legislature as well, saying health officials there expect to see 250 Albertans need intensive care beds by April 22 — three weeks before they predict the number of cases in the province will peak.

READ MORE: AHS modelling projects 250 Albertans in ICU over COVID-19 later in April

Ford had initially resisted sharing Ontario’s projections with the public, saying as recently as Wednesday that he feared they might cause panic. He reversed course on Thursday, pledging to release the data.

“You deserve to see the same data that I see, you deserve to know what I know,” he said during a briefing with media on the state of the virus in the province.

A leaked report of the potential forecast in Saskatchewan was also obtained by Global News last week, and that shows the government there views 15,000 deaths as the worst-case scenario.

READ MORE: Ontario reports 462 new coronavirus cases, total now at 3,255 and 67 deaths

Countries around the world have started to offer their grim vision for how the disease could play out. In the United States, officials said Tuesday there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in that country as a result of COVID-19, with 200,000 expected even “if we do things almost perfectly.”

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New Zealand published a government-commissioned model to design its “plan for” scenario, in which 65 per cent of the public becomes infected, 336,000 people require hospitalization and between 12,600 and 33,600 to die.

And a report by Reuters on Thursday cited a U.K. official as saying that country’s worst-case scenario was 50,000 deaths but also cautioning that isn’t being viewed as likely right now.

— With files from Global News’ Andrew Russell

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