Ontario Petition: please sign

COVID-19 Resources Canada has prepared this petition in collaboration with experts and the public asking the Ontario government to improve its public health data transparency to promote public trust and involvement in Ontario’s COVID-19 response.

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To: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Attention: Doug Ford, MPP, Premier of Ontario

Re: Measures to promote PUBLIC TRUST AND INVOLVEMENT in Ontario COVID-19 responses

Public trust and involvement are essential for controlling the COVID-19 epidemic in Ontario while protecting the financial, social, physical and mental health of Ontarians. Compassion, understanding and a sense of community and common values are crucial for building and maintaining public trust and involvement.

Ontarians care about the wellbeing of our neighbours and loved ones. We are all capable of making sacrifices for the common good, if we understand the reasons for these sacrifices, the necessary actions, and are given enough time to respond. We need clear, transparent, timely communication of evidence and its use in decision-making processes and what we need to do to help each other.

Clear, transparent, timely communication is essential for effective crisis responses in democracies. It is vital for earning public trust, and for establishing shared goals that most people understand, support and can strive toward. Without transparency and clear, compassionate dialogue with all Ontarians, we will not be able to work together to beat the COVID-19 epidemic.

To promote public trust and involvement in Ontario COVID-19 responses, and foster compassion, understanding and a sense of community and common values, we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, petition our political and public leaders to adopt the following recommendations:

1) Provide TRANSPARENT, CLEAR EVIDENCE AND COMMUNICATION to help Ontarians make informed decisions.

  • A. Include information with the weekly Public Health Ontario Epidemiologic Summary that will help us understand WHY restrictions are increased or relaxed. 1) Speed and effectiveness of testing, contact-tracing and isolation; 2) Changes in major COVID-19 transmission settings over time; 3) Projected dates when healthcare capacity will be reached; 4) Projected and actual employment and income impacts of public health restrictions on Ontarians, including in sectors most affected by restrictions, and for communities in/most at risk of poverty. See Appendix for details.
  • B. Establish transparent, public criteria for moving from one restriction stage to another by using a traffic light system (green, yellow, red) to communicate when regions are approaching a new stage of restriction or relaxation, so that people understand what may be coming. See Appendix for details.
  • C. Identify independent experts with exceptional communication skills to publicly review & explain Weekly Epidemiologic Reports and additional evidence supporting government policy decisions. See Appendix for details.

2) Share how Ontarians and our communities are helping others respond to COVID-19

  • A. Use daily briefing platform to profile individual Ontarians facing different struggles related to COVID-19, and the work that individuals and communities are doing to help each other. Highlight hope, resilience and direct actions Ontarians are taking to help each other during the pandemic. See Appendix for details.
  • B. Build or support a simple digital platform or website allowing volunteer groups to communicate quickly with each other about how they can help each other and advocate for unmet needs, and advertise needs to others who can help. This is especially important for groups supporting those in greatest need who face barriers to accessing support. This will empower individuals and their communities.

cc:

Members of the Provincial Command Table, Ministry of Health

Christine Elliott, MPP, Minister of Health

Dr. Merrillee Fullerton, MPP, Minister of Long-Term Care

Members of the Executive Council of Ontario

Steven Davidson, Secretary of Cabinet

Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Ontario

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Ontario

Andrea Horwath MPP, Leader of the Official Opposition

Mike Schreiner MPP, Leader of the Ontario Green Party

Steven Del Luca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

All Members of the Legislative Assembly

Petition prepared by COVID-19 Resources Canada info@covid19resources.ca

APPENDIX: Detailed recommendations

1) Provide TRANSPARENT, CLEAR EVIDENCE AND COMMUNICATION to help Ontarians make informed decisions.

  • A. Include information with the weekly Public Health Ontario Epidemiologic Summary
    • a. Speed and effectiveness of testing, contact-tracing and isolation. This information will help Ontarians understand if and when our test, trace and isolate system is unable to keep with case numbers, and why more restrictive public health measures may be needed until case numbers decrease to manageable numbers or test, trace and isolate systems can scale to meet need:
      • i. Percentage of positive tests reported to individuals and public health units within 48 hours
      • ii. Percentage of cases for which contact tracing is completed within 48 hours of first report to public health units
      • iii. Percentage of positive cases who self-isolate for required period.
    • b. COVID-19 transmission settings: Reporting of cases in the following settings not currently identified in the Weekly Epidemiologic Summary:
      • i. Close contact of a confirmed case (in-home transmission)
      • ii. Outbreaks (separated from cases due to close contact w/ confirmed case from outbreak)
      • iii. Healthcare settings other than congregate care, retirement homes and hospitals
      • iv. Settings that are target of current or proposed restrictions, including gyms, restaurants with indoor dining, bars, banquet halls and conference centres
      • v. Private social events larger (and smaller) than provincially directed maximum group gathering size
      • vi. Breakdown of most common types of workplace outbreaks
    • c. Projected dates when healthcare capacity will be reached in different regions:
      • i. Hospitals, ICUs, ventilators
      • ii. Healthcare workforce, including staff in congregate care settings and retirement homes
    • d. Projected and actual employment and income impacts of public health restrictions on Ontarians, including in sectors most affected by restrictions, and for communities in/most at risk of poverty:
      • i. Unemployment
      • ii. Full-time and part-time employment
      • iii. People living beneath the poverty line
  • B. Establish transparent, public criteria for moving from one restriction stage to another. Use a traffic light system (green, yellow, red) to communicate when regions are approaching a new stage of restriction or relaxation, so that people understand what may be coming. Ensure all Ontarians know what will happen at each stage, and what they need to do to move to a more relaxed stage, or help prevent further restrictions. Tell and remind Ontarians how their efforts are paying off, while reminding them what to do. This will give us a sense of control, and how our actions affect the things we care about.
  • C. Identify independent experts with exceptional communication skills to publicly review & explain Weekly Epidemiologic Reports and additional evidence supporting government policy decisions. Draw these experts from Public Health Ontario and/or the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and Economic Advisory Tables. Make it clear that the cabinet and Premier make the final decisions, but show people the evidence behind those decisions so that we can understand. And let these experts freely answer questions from media. This will earn trust.

2) Share how Ontarians and our communities are helping others respond to COVID-19

  • A. Use daily briefing platform to:
    • a. Profile individual Ontarians facing different struggles related to COVID-19 (health, financial, psychosocial etc). Help Ontarians see how the epidemic affects different people. Remind us who our neighbours are and what they struggle with.
    • b. Highlight hope, resilience, ingenuity and direct actions Ontarians can and are taking to help each other through the pandemic. In each weekly briefing, have a representative of an on-the-ground organization or community group or individuals responding to COVID-19 needs in their communities describe what they are doing. Have a representative of another group who needs volunteer, logistics or donation support tell Ontarians how they can help with their work. This will help Ontarians help their neighbours.