Cambridge Safe & Strong, a grassroots group, is calling for the release of COVID-19 case numbers within the city, rather than bundling it with the rest of Waterloo Region.
On April 10, the group sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking for his help. In the letter, they state they were "gravely concerned that the Region of Waterloo, in concert with Waterloo Public Health, (was) steadfastly refusing to provide information," regarding the number of deaths and infections that were specifically in Cambridge.
On Monday, Murray Marshall, a member of the Cambridge Safe & Strong group spoke with Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS, about their reasons why the data was necessary.
According to Marshall, it was a matter of transparency, evoking the Premier's own words on the matter, which they quoted in their letter.
"I'll refer to what Premier Ford said on April 2, which is, 'You deserve to see to the same data that I see when I'm making decision. You deserve to know what I know when you're making decisions for yourself, your family, and your community,'" Marshall said.
In early April, the Premier released the provincial case and death projections to underscore the seriousness of the pandemic, and the need to follow the advice of health officials. Following suit, Public Health units across the province released their own projections in respect to the areas they oversaw. On April 10, in the media briefing, Dr. Hsui-Li Wang, Acting Medical Officer of Health presented the Region of Waterloo Public Health's own death projections for the region as a whole.
Currently, Region of Waterloo Public Health provides a dashboard on their website with the latest positive COVID-19 case numbers. It covers the number of deaths, recoveries, and ongoing outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes, and breaking down cases by status, hospitalization, transmission type, age and sex.
"That's all good, but we just like to see one more chart on their website, breaking it down by municipality," Marshall said.
The group points to other municipality health units who have provided breakdowns by cities. As examples, they pointed to Peel Public Health, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit who provide this information, but not all health units do.
According to Marshall, when the group asked Region of Waterloo Public Health for the information, they were not satisfied with the response. According to the group, Public Health saw no benefit or medical reason for releasing that data. In their letter to the Premier, they called those reasons "vague" and "unconvincing".
"As they say, all politics is local. In the sense that issues that affect the community; you want to know what the numbers are; what the information is. We're living in a time very much of uncertainty. People are uncertain about their jobs, their investments and value of their homes. It would give us one more piece of important information, if we know how this COVID epidemic or pandemic was affecting our community," Marshall said.
On whether Cambridge-specific data could guide important policy decisions in the city, he said, "It may."
Cambridge Ward 8 Councillor Nicholas Ermeta has also been pushing for municipal-specific data to be released in the daily update.