January 18, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB—The Manitoba NDP is calling on the PC government to be transparent with Manitobans and release provincial public health data on rates of COVID-19 transmissions in workplaces, schools and racialized groups ahead of Friday’s new public health order and on an ongoing basis.
“The PC government hasn’t been open and transparent with Manitobans about the transmission of COVID-19,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Over the last month we’ve seen increased frustration from business owners and high rates of transmission from holiday gatherings that went against public health orders. With a new health order coming at the end of the week, and students returning from remote learning today, this government needs to ensure that Manitobans have the facts they need to abide by the new restrictions by releasing demographic data on an on-going weekly basis.”
Through a freedom of information request, media was able to uncover data that showed thatworkplace transmission accounted for a quarter of all community-based infections in the last two months of 2020. This data was not shared with regular Manitobans or made available in public health press conferences yet it is essential information that Manitobans need to have full confidence in public health restrictions.
Nine months ago, after calls from epidemiological experts and the Official Opposition, the province began to collect race-based data related to COVID-19 but have refused to share it publicly. Experts agree publicizing this data helps policy-makers and community to recognize the disparate impacts of the virus on racialized people and take targeted steps to mitigate the virus’s spread.
In Manitoba, more than half of positive cases are Indigenous. Some of the most significant workplace outbreaks have been in facilities like meat processing plants, where a disproportionate number of employees are racialized.
“Based on population data, we know Manitobans likely at risk of contracting the virus while at work are racialized,” said NDP Healthcare Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “The PCs have to do more to protect these communities, including sharing rates of workplace transmissions and alerting them to emerging trends as we move forward with new restrictions.”