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Advice given at provincial COVID-19 advisory table should be public, Toronto health board says

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WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday faced tough questions about his government’s transparency when it comes to its response to the pandemic – Nov 16, 2020

The Toronto Board of Health has passed a motion calling on the provincial government to make public all of the recommendations made at the province’s COVID-19 advisory table.

The motion was passed Monday morning at a board meeting after Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that advice provided at the province’s public health measures table is protected by confidentiality agreements.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,487 new coronavirus cases, 10 more deaths

Various officials at the table provide recommendations to the chief medical officer of health, who then creates formal recommendations for cabinet. Cabinet subsequently considers the recommendations and makes decisions on what measures to implement in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“In a public health emergency, complete transparency is required,” said Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health.

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“Any advice that governments receive that shapes the COVID-19 response should be publicly available. That’s how you maintain public trust and ensure accountability.”

A spokepserson for the Ministry of Health responded to the motion in a statement to Global News.

David Jensen said the government has been “clear and transparent” since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Whether it be providing Ontarians with daily updates of COVID cases around the province or being one of the first provinces in the country to release modelling data, we have always been upfront with the people of Ontario,” Jensen said.

“We respect the work of all our public health experts and the expertise and advice they provide. The terms of reference of the public health measures table allow for candid discussions that ultimately lead to guidance and advice being provided to the chief medical officer of health.”

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Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott reiterated during a press conference Monday that their government has been transparent throughout the pandemic.

Meanwhile, at the Toronto Board of Health meeting, De Villa said she believes more restrictions are required to slow the spread of COVID-19.

De Villa added that she believes it would be beneficial if restrictions that are in place in Toronto are also implemented in adjacent cities and regions.