Toronto Public Health vice-chair questions city’s COVID-19 policy
A Toronto Public Health vice-chair is calling for transparency into a city’s COVID-19 response policy after a leaked email raised questions about why the city has not expanded its testing capabilities.
Dr. Christine Bartlett’s concerns were echoed by the Chair of Toronto Public Health, Bonnie Crombie-Cullen, during a meeting Monday night with the Toronto Star in response to a series of news articles and reports on the city’s COVID-19 response.
“I am very concerned about the lack of transparency when it comes to the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 strategy,” said Bartlett, a retired infectious disease specialist and deputy chief of infectious diseases at Toronto Public Health.
“We have to know what the strategies are to deal with the new and emerging infections and also to respond to the outbreaks that already happen in our community.”
In a series of emails obtained through the freedom of information legislation, city staff expressed concerns about how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak at a meeting last week with the former chair of the Toronto Board of Health, Dr. Mark Saunders.
Dr. Christine Bartlett, a retired public health specialist at Toronto Public Health, says Toronto Public Health should publicly disclose its response to COVID-19. (Jasmin Elangwe/Toronto Star/QMI Agency) https://t.co/j1C4QWyZj7 pic.twitter.com/zjv9qzG1z0 — Toronto Star (@TorontoStar) March 29, 2020
Saunders, who now serves on the board of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), resigned from both positions to spend more time with his family after he learned of staff concerns about potential spread of coronavirus at three Toronto-area facilities. Saunders was one of the key advocates for the city to become a testing and treatment hub for COVID-19 and also helped the city prepare to expand the province’s supply of PPE like masks and gowns at the end of February.
The emails show staff were confused about how to respond to what seemed to be an alarming situation at three Toronto