HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Health Coalition is calling for Randy Delorey, Minister of Health and Wellness, to commit now to releasing the full report of the Northwood Long-Term Care Facility COVID-19 Quality-Improvement Committee to the public.
The committee, announced today and due to finish its review in September, will report directly to the Minister Delorey, who will then decide how much information will be released to the public. Since the two person committee will presumably be investigating the role of the Minister and other elected officials in pandemic planning, this creates an inherent conflict of interest.
“53 people died at Northwood and the public deserves to know the uncensored truth about what happened. Lives are at stake,” said Chris Parsons, Provincial Coordinator for the Nova Scotia Health Coalition and a former frontline worker at Northwood Manor. “It should not be up to the Minister or the Premier’s office to determine what the public can and cannot know about this tragedy.”
In addition, the Coalition is concerned that the scope of the review, as laid out in the terms of reference, are too narrow.
“The terms of reference focus too heavily on the actions of staff and leadership at Northwood. Given the imminent second wave of COVID-19 and the broader failings of our long-term care system that the disease has revealed, it’s clear that we need a review of the system as a whole, to find out what worked and what did not work throughout the province. These problems did not start in March.” Parsons added.
While quick answers are needed to ensure mistakes are not repeated, the Coalition also is calling for a full and independent public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act. Such an inquiry would allow for full independence from the Minister and provide the necessary investigative resources and legal powers needed to understand the tragedy at Northwood and the broader failures of Nova Scotia’s long-term care system.
The Nova Scotia Health Coalition is a coalition of patients, health care practitioners, advocates and concerned Nova Scotians committed to defending, strengthening and extending public health care. The Coalition is a political but non-partisan organization founded in 1996.