Why haven’t there been federal COVID-19 briefings during the election campaign?


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) can choose how it updates Canadians on the state of COVID-19 during this election, amid questions over the absence of pandemic or vaccine briefings since the election was called. During federal elections, the government runs on “caretaker” mode, in which officials’ interactions with the public are generally limited. Communications in the interest of public health and safety are allowed — but since the campaign kicked off Aug. 15, PHAC has not held any press conferences during which reporters could pose questions on COVID-19 or the vaccine rollout. The agency has issued one statement, last Friday, in which it indicated that the seven-day average of new cases was up 38 per cent from the previous week, and warned that “national severity trends have begun to increase.” In a statement to CTV News, PHAC spokesperson Mark Johnson said that the agency “continues to closely monitor COVID-19 activity,” and that information will be shared, citing the plans to continue weekly Friday statements and the agency’s use of social media.

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