- The official opposition in New Brunswick has tabled a resolution calling for an independent investigation into the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The action comes amid a frenzy of political wrangling over transparency and communication about the province’s current condition.
New Brunswick’s official opposition has introduced a motion calling for an independent examination of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Interim Liberal leader Roger Melanson first introduced it; then, it was reintroduced by Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours on Thursday.
The action comes amid a frenzy of political wrangling over transparency and communication about the province’s current condition.
Melanson told reporters on Thursday that an independent study would look at all factors. “The decision-making process, data collection, how it was understood, communications, the roles of all different parties… federal government interactions,” says the author.
He noted that while many good things were done, a completely impartial study of the pandemic response as a whole is needed to make suggestions for the future.
Liberals and Greens have urged for more restrictive measures to be used and the province to communicate more clearly about COVID-19 guidelines.
In July, the government lifted all restrictions, but the fourth wave arrived soon after. Shortly after, the number of cases continued to rise again, and there were no signs of a slowdown.
The province moved to reintroduce mask regulations in October.
Since the summer, the number of active cases in New Brunswick has never been lower than 100. According to Health Canada, New Brunswick is second in the country for the number of cases per 100,000 and is tied for second in terms of deaths per 100,000.
According to Melanson, the misunderstanding has ramifications.
“You have to be extremely explicit when communicating a message around COVID-19,” he stated.
He re-iterated the premier’s perplexing remarks about the origins of hospital outbreaks from the previous week, which the two health agencies have since denied.
On the other side, Premier Blaine Higgs believes that now is not the time for a review. The motion, he said, was just another “opposition strategy.”
“We’re still dealing with issues connected to citizen health and safety,” Higgs added. “You can do evaluations later and say what we would do differently and how we would react differently,” she says, “but in the middle of a pandemic, a review or a study takes away from the resources you need to deal with the challenges at hand.”
According to him, Melanson allegedly walked away from the COVID-19 cabinet committee, where he was a member of the decision-making process.
He answered, “You wouldn’t do that in the thick of a pandemic.” “He resigned from the epidemic team.” I suppose one should consider why he left or where he was when earlier decisions were made.”
On the other hand, Higgs indicated he would consider a review once the pandemic is gone.
Kris Austin, the leader of the People’s Alliance, expressed similar remarks regarding the review.
“It’s all about timing for me,” he explained.
However, Austin did mention that pandemic communication is a problem.
On Thursday, he stated, “Communication, in my opinion, has always been the downfall of the pandemic response.” “I frequently observe a gap between what is reported to the public and what I understand as a member of the COVID cabinet.”
On Dec. 3, the health minister revealed the province’s Winter Action Plan. According to Higgs, Public Health has not triggered assessments to move to more restricted levels in the plan, including in Zone 3, the Fredericton region.
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