Some of the province’s major media organizations are calling on the Quebec government to grant journalists greater access to facilities within the health network, as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.
In an open letter published Tuesday and signed by Global News, media representatives argue that showing the reality of what is going on in Quebec hospitals and long-term care facilities is paramount.
“It is of utmost of importance for Quebecers to hear directly from embattled doctors, nurses and orderlies, as well as the patients they are treating, in order to accurately report the harsh realities being experienced behind those closed doors,” the letter reads.
“Health-care workers, after all, are the primary witnesses to what goes on inside our health institutions. They must be allowed to speak freely about what they are observing during this crisis.”
The group credits images out of Italy in March 2020, showing overcrowded hospital rooms and overwhelmed staff, for helping to bring the full impact of the health crisis to the public’s attention.
“It was this imagery, more than any World Health Organization announcement or press release, that made people the world over aware of the gravity of the pandemic. It also helped many of them more readily accept government confinement measures.”
According to media representatives, more often than not, journalists’ requests to document the pandemic from inside long-term care facilities or within hospitals, have been denied by government and public health authorities alike.
Global News, as well as its fellow signatories, cited freedom of information for the request.
“It’s shocking that the government would not let journalists in, journalists are being safe about it, they’re protecting themselves as they go in. This is exceptionally important,” said Karyn Pugliese, past-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and co-chair of the association’s advocacy committee.
“There’s also the issue of accountability, we want to know how severe the crisis is, we want to know that patients are getting the care and that health-care workers are getting what they need in order to deliver care to people.”
The province says it’s looking into ways they can safely allow journalists into health facilities.
“I think we could benefit as a society to have more information, better communication with what’s happening in our health establishments, buildings and facilities,” said Christian Dubé, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Social Services.
A full copy of the open letter can be found below.
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