Premier Prioritizes Secrecy Ahead of Public Interest in Northwood Review Process

Due to the secretive nature of the Northwood review, NSGEU President Jason MacLean has decided to not take part in the process.

The Northwood review process announced on June 30th restricts anyone who appears before the committee from sharing that same information publicly, and threatens them with risk of fines and prison time, says NSGEU President Jason MacLean.

Last week, MacLean was invited to speak with members of the review committee about our members’ experience working at Northwood during the first wave of COVID-19. Just hours before that meeting, the NSGEU received an email from a committee staff person stating that, “Any quality improvement information, is protected from disclosure under the Quality Improvement Information Protection Act.”

This means that any information provided to the committee immediately becomes a secret and cannot be provided to the public in any form, not even through the province’s Freedom of Information Act. A person releasing information is subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to six months in prison.

“The NSGEU accepted the invitation to work with the review committee so we could share the experiences of our members. The NSGEU stands with the 53 families who lost loved ones during the first wave of the COVID pandemic,” says MacLean. “We strongly believe that the public interest is best served by holding a public inquiry, fully disclosing all information, so the families, seniors, staff and Nova Scotians get the answers they deserve.”

In light of the secrecy surrounding the current review process, President MacLean made the difficult decision to decline speaking with the committee. Instead, the details he was prepared to provide to the committee are being compiled into a detailed report, which we plan to release publicly next week, along with an 800+ page FOIPOP document. The report and FOIPOP document outline not just the events at Northwood in April of this year, but also provides a context into government’s decisions leading up to the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

“The residents of Northwood, as well as their family members, facility staff, and all Nova Scotians, deserve to know what led up to the tragic deaths at this facility,” says MacLean.

In light of the Provincial government’s newfound support for public inquiries, the NSGEU is renewing its call for Premier Stephen McNeil to also launch a full public inquiry into the deaths of 53 residents at Northwood this spring.

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