Press Release: The Facts on Northwood Review Committee
Today, Premier McNeil was asked about the secretive Northwood Review and the NSGEU’s decision not to participate as information provided would be prohibited from being made public.
In response to the question the Premier said:
“No one ever said he couldn’t.”
“Nothing is stopping Mr. MacLean from telling his story. And you should research that before you print it as fact cause it’s not fact.”
Here are the facts.
Mr. MacLean was scheduled to appear before the review committee on July 22.
That day NSGEU asked our legal counsel to contact counsel from the Department of Justice and ask directly if the terms of the Quality-improvement Information Protection Act would restrict our ability to publicize any information we provided to the Review Committee. Our lawyer received the following in response:
“First I should say that the review is happening at arms-length from government, and beyond striking the Terms of Reference, the Department of Health and its solicitors don’t advise the review or speak for it. So I can give you our understanding, but your client should also address any concerns directly with the review and seek clarification there.
That said, the review falls under the Quality-Improvement Information Protection Act (QIIPA), which is designed to implement a high-degree of confidentiality. The recommendations that come from the review would be disclosable to the public, but any report or supporting evidence would not, and would not be accessible under FOIPOP. “Information” as defined in QIIPA includes information communicated to the review in any form, including oral discussions. Furthermore, “information” as defined in QIIPA is not compellable as evidence in a court proceeding. There are some exceptions in QIIPA, though none would seem to apply here.”
Later that day the NSGEU received a response from the Review Committee directly. The following response was from Jennifer Mendoza, a consultant working for the Committee:
Thanks for agreeing to meet this afternoon.
In terms of guidelines the meeting is part of the consultation process related to the Quality Improvement Review related to the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Northwood Long Term Care Facility, Halifax campus. As part of this review, the Committee is interviewing individuals and parties that, in the opinion of the Committee, have relevant information to the review. Information provided during interviews will be used to assist the reviewers in determining what factors contributed to the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 within the facility.
Any “quality improvement information” is protected from disclosure under the Quality-improvement Information Protection Act. The Reviewers will make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Wellness for the purposes of planning and managing the health system and conducting Province-wide quality-improvement activities related to the management of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. The Minister may disclose aggregated de-identified information and any resulting health services system recommendations that do not include personal health information or personal information.
For more information, please see the terms of reference.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
That afternoon Mr. MacLean did appear before the Review Committee and again sought clarification on the rules of confidentiality. The committee confirmed the terms as described by the Department of Justice and Ms. Mendoza.
Mr. MacLean told the Review Committee he could not continue with the interview as it is the position of the NSGEU that all information should be made public. The NSGEU went on to publicly release it’s own report called Neglecting Northwood.
The NSGEU renews its call a full public inquiry into the outbreak at Northwood and based on the Premier’s suggestion we have provided a copy of our report to the Northwood Review Committee for their consideration.
The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.
For more information, please contact:
Lucas Wide, 902-497-5010 (cell) email@example.com
NSGEU Communications Office
902-424-4063 (office) 877-556-7438 (toll free) firstname.lastname@example.org
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