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Readers have mixed response to how well health officials share COVID information: poll

Almost the same number of North Shore readers (37 per cent) were satisfied with how the government has handled pandemic information sharing, as those (36 per cent) who said health officials need to do a better job with transparency
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's medical health officer, Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix pictured at a news conference in 2020. file photo

Just how much information the public has received about the pandemic from health authorities has been a topic of much debate in B.C.

The North Shore News, for instance, has repeatedly sought information – from reports on COVID-19 outbreaks at Lions Gate Hospital and North Shore long-term care homes – to statistical and general demographic information about who was getting COVID in what settings on the North Shore and what percentage of local care home staff have been vaccinated – from health authorities. Almost always, those questions had to proceed through Freedom of Information requests. And almost always there were lengthy delays in processing those requests, culminating many months later in refusals by health authorities to provide any information.

You can probably guess how we feel about the government's information sharing during the pandemic. But we wanted to know what you thought.

North Shore News polled 1366 North Shore News readers and asked the question: How satisfied are you with the way the province has shared information about COVID-19 cases during the pandemic?

The results were decidedly mixed.

Among readers in general, over 40 per cent of respondents weren't satisfied, saying governments should be much more open. Just over 35 per cent of all readers felt health officials were doing the best they could under difficult circumstances.

North Shore readers, however, were prepared to cut health officials more slack, by a very narrow margin. Just over 37 per cent of local readers were satisfied with the level of information sharing, and said health officials have higher priorities - like fighting the pandemic. About 36 per cent were unsatisfied, saying they'd like to see health officials far more open with information.

About 27 per cent of local readers and just under 25 per cent of readers overall said they were somewhat satisfied, but thought the government could do better on issues like notifications about school COVID exposures.

The poll ran from 9/24/2021 to 10/15/2022. Of the 1366 votes, we can determine that 540 are from within the community. The full results are as follows:

I'm satisfied. Public health officials are doing a good job under difficult circumstances and have to prioritize caring for patients and fighting the pandemic. 37.04 % local, 35.14 % total    
I'm somewhat satisfied. I'm happy with the information we're getting, but they could do more to let people know when and where infections are happening, especially in schools and public settings. 27.04 % local, 24.67 % total    
I'm not satisfied. Governments in other jurisdictions are far more open. The province treats its citizens like children and withholds or fudges crucial information people need to understand the pandemic in B.C. 35.93 % local, 40.19 % total    
  Local   Total

Results are based on an online study of adult North Shore News readers that are located in North Shore. The margin of error - which measures sample variability - is +/- 2.64%, 19 times out of 20.

North Shore News uses a variety of techniques to capture data, detect and prevent fraudulent votes, detect and prevent robots, and filter out non-local and duplicate votes.