Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — “We’re politicians, not doctors,” admits Jill Dunlop, the Simcoe North MPP who said this morning she “differs” with her own medical officer of health when it comes to transparency concerns that some physicians have about being able to share the pandemic advice they’re giving the government.

“Every decision we make is based on the knowledge that lives are on the line.”

And “every decision we have made has been in consultation with the medical officer of health and medical officers of health across the province. Of course, we value the decisions and advice brought to us through the doctors.”

“But in the end the advice that comes from the doctors is the advice we stand by and we move forward.

“I can tell you there are ongoing discussions.”

The Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues — a Ford government cabinet member — said “I believe we have been 100 per cent transparent from the beginning of the pandemic and we will continue to be that way throughout this process.”

She cited the daily 1 p.m. TV “pressers” with doctors.

“They’re showing the public exactly what we’re seeing as caucus members.”

Dunlop, who was in Bracebridge at Muskoka Timber Mills promoting the Nov. 5 provincial budget, was responding to a question by about Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Charles Gardner.

He on a hand-picked panel of medical advisers and to told the Toronto Star yesterday that “information from that table would help people understand the reason for recommendations, and I think that would help with buy-in from the public as well. So I think in general it would be a good idea.”

Gardner previously told local media that he recommended more restrictions be placed around travel within the province between zones where there are more COVID cases.

But he said the panel had to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding their task force talks due to confidentiality.

One of the members of that key group of doctors advising the province is Dr. Marlene Spruyt, a former Gravenhurst resident and high school student who is now the medical officer of health for Algoma region.

She, too, agrees in part that more transparency would help understanding, but that not all discussions should be public.

Dunlop went on to say she agrees with Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, that it she’d like to see a “green Christmas” — a reference to provincial COVID zone coding that would lessen restrictions.

“I think we’re all hopeful that it will be a Christmas we spend together, but with the numbers increasing these days it’s important that we all follow these public health measures ….

“We’re fortunate here in our area that there hasn’t been high numbers (31 today in Simcoe), but we have been increasing over the days what with all the hot spots across the province. So we need to continue following those public health measures to see through this and to again be able to spend time together.”

When Dunlop was asked about comments yesterday to the CBC by top American Dr. Anthony Fauci about a need for more testing everywhere including Canada and concerns that provinces including Ontario are following short on tests, she said “We are capable of testing 50,000 now and we are increasing that. But we can’t be dragging people off the street to make them have tests.

“We can only have as many tests as are people out there. We have the capacity to do the testing, we just need people to come forward and be tested.”

She said the testing centres are doing an “incredible job and I thank all the front-line workers for the situation they’ve been in and the amazing work they’ve done throughout to keep us safe.”

On the topic the flu vaccine shortage, Dunlop said “every person in Ontario who wants a vaccine has (been) promised to get one.”

But pharmacies and doctors say they can’t get enough supply.

“Well, they need to release them and they do come in batches. I’m waiting to get mine,” said Dunlop, adding people can still sign up to get one in their local community.

“Every person who wants a flu shot will be able to get one.”

Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop said today that “in the end the advice that comes from the doctors is the advice we stand by and we move forward.”



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