The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has refused to release the coronavirus modelling that was used to justify the date of their provincial election – which has been postponed as a result of an outbreak of the virus.
When Liberal Premier Andrew Furey called the election in January, he said the decision was based on “probabilistic modelling” which suggested holding an election was safe despite a global pandemic and low vaccination rates.
When CBC requested the modelling from the Department of Health and Community Services, they were denied based on cabinet confidentiality.
“As I have said repeatedly, the election was called January 15 after consistently low prevalence of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, outbreaks in three communities quickly contained, and getting through the holiday season without an outbreak,” Furey said in a statement.
“No one could have predicted the outbreak that occurred.”
Furey, who was appointed premier after former Liberal leader Dwight Ball resigned in August, was not obligated to hold an election until August 2021 according to N.L. election laws.
Furey cited the economy, public spending and the province’s enormous debt as reasons to seek a new mandate.
Just days before the Feb. 13 election date, the province faced an outbreak of the virus, leading the election to be postponed in half of the provincial districts before the whole election was eventually rescheduled until Mar. 25.
N.L. Progressive Conservative leader Ches Crosbie says he doubts Furey had real data to back up his decision, but called it irresponsible to hide whatever documents he has.
“I don’t think the documents exist but if they did exist, [Furey] should waive any claim of cabinet confidentiality,” Crosbie said.
“If he wants to convince the public that he had sound grounds and reasons based in public safety to call the election when he did, then he should show to the public that he had that.”
Newfoundland and Labrador currently face the poorest economy in Canada, dealing with both the highest rates of unemployment and per-person debt.