Transcript: COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace | Jan 08, 2021

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a blue blazer over a blue sweater.

A caption on screen reads "COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says ONTARIO THIS WEEK RECORDED RECORD LEVELS OF INFECTION AND DEATH FROM COVID-19. THAT AFTER TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH SAID IT WOULD START PUBLISHING THE NAMES OF EMPLOYERS WHERE SIGNIFICANT OUTBREAKS WERE HAPPENING. WILL THAT HELP? AND WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE DONE TO GET WORKPLACE SPREAD UNDER CONTROL? WITH US TO CONSIDER THAT: IN HAMILTON, ONTARIO: DR. MARTHA FULFORD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT MCMASTER UNIVERSITY...

Martha is in her fifties, with pulled-back brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a green sweater and a matching neckerchief.

Nam continues AND IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: VICTORIA ARRANDALE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S DALLA LANA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

Victoria is in her thirties, with chin-length wavy chestnut hair and bangs. She's wearing glasses and a colourful printed shirt in hues of red and orange.

Nam continues WELCOME TO YOU BOTH.

Nam says AND HAPPY NEW YEAR. BEFORE WE START OUR CONVERSATION, I WANTED TO SHOW A CLIP OF DR. EILEEN DA VILLA FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK WHO IS THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH FOR THE CITY OF TORONTO AND HERE SHE IS EXPLAINING THE NEW MEASURES THE CITY IS TAKING AMID NEW INFECTIONS. SHELDON, LET'S ROLL.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "January 4, 2021."

In the clip, Eileen De Vila gives an official statement.

She's in her forties, with long straight dark hair, and wears glasses.

She says TODAY THE COVID-19 DASHBOARD WILL INCLUDE NEW INFORMATION TO FURTHER ILLUSTRATE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VIRUS IN TORONTO. THE WEBSITE WILL PROVIDE MORE SPECIFICITY ABOUT WORKPLACE-RELATED OUTBREAKS ACROSS 11 CATEGORIES, INCLUDING WORKPLACE SETTINGS LIKE GROCERY STORES, PHARMACIES, FOOD PROCESSING SITES, OFFICES, WAREHOUSING, SHIPPING AND DISTRIBUTION, CONSTRUCTION AND MANUFACTURING FACILITIES. ADDITIONALLY, TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH IS IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM TO SHARE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT WORKPLACE OUTBREAKS WITHOUT COMPROMISING INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY.

The clip ends.

Nam says I WANT TO GET YOUR REACTIONS FROM THE ANNOUNCEMENT. DR. FULFORD, I'LL ASK YOU FIRST. CAN I GET YOUR REACTION TO THE CITY OF TORONTO'S DECISION TO BEGIN REPORTING WORKPLACE OUTBREAKS?

The caption changes to "Martha Fulford. McMaster University."
Then, it changes again to "A new approach."

Martha says IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHY. I'M HOPING THAT IT'S NOT FOR NAMING AND SHAMING AND BLAMING, AND I DON'T THINK THAT WAS THE INTENT. BUT IF IT HELPS US UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHERE TRANSMISSION IS OCCURRING, THAT IS HELPFUL RIGHT NOW. WE'VE OF COURSE, HAD A VERY BROAD BRUSH APPROACH OF SHUTTING DOWN ALL BUSINESSES AND IT MAY BE, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT SMALL RETAIL IS NOT A RISK, IT MAY BE RESTAURANTS ARE NOT A RISK, AND UNDERSTANDING IN MORE DETAIL WHERE WE ARE SEEING TRANSMISSION WOULD BE HELPFUL IN TERMS OF TARGETING INTERVENTIONS, AND NOT TO BE PUNITIVE BUT TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHY. IS IT THAT THERE ARE NO APPROPRIATE BREAK ROOMS? IS IT HAPPENING BECAUSE OF FACE-TO-FACE ENCOUNTERS? IS IT DELIBERATE OR IS IT ACCIDENTAL? SO I THINK IF WE CAN UNDERSTAND AND INTERVENE IN A WAY THAT ACTUALLY HELPS BUSINESSES CARRY ON, THAT'S VERY USEFUL. I WOULD JUST SINCERELY HOPE THAT IT'S NOT GOING TO BE USED TO NAME AND SHAME, WHICH I THINK WE ALL KNOW HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN CERTAIN AREAS.

Nam says AND, VICTORIA, WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?

The caption changes to "Victoria Arrandale. University of Toronto."

Victoria says WELL, I THINK IT'S AN IMPROVEMENT. I THINK SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WORKPLACES AND WORKERS AND WHERE WE'RE SEEING INCREASED RISK, SO I DO THINK IT'S AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT. I THINK THE PIECE THAT MAYBE WASN'T TOUCHED UPON ON THE CLIP IS THIS NEW REQUIREMENT TO HAVE WORKPLACES SORT OF SELF-REPORT TO TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH IF THEY HAVE TWO OR MORE CASES WITHIN 14 DAYS, AND I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE QUITE HELPFUL. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY IT RELIES ON THE EMPLOYERS TO MAKE THAT PHONE CALL OR SEND THAT EMAIL, BUT I DO THINK, AS DR. FULFORD MENTIONED, THAT IF IT IS GOING TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND WHERE TRANSMISSION IS OCCURRING, IT IS GOING TO BE A POSITIVE.

Nam says VICTORIA, CAN YOU GIVE US A DEFINITION OF WHAT AN OUTBREAK IS?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Victoria says WELL, A DEFINITION OF OUTBREAK SEEMS TO DIFFER DEPENDING UPON WHO IS USING IT. IN THIS CASE, THE TRIGGER POINT IS THOSE TWO CASES WITHIN 14 DAYS, AND AT THAT POINT, UNDER THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WAS MADE, THE EMPLOYER WOULD THEN HAVE TO NOTIFY TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH. THE NAMING OF THE EMPLOYERS OR THE WORKPLACES HAPPENS UNDER A DIFFERENT FRAMEWORK, AT LEAST AS PER MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT, THAT THAT WOULD ONLY BE DONE IN VERY SELECT CASES WHERE... I BELIEVE DR. DA VILLA, AS SHE SAID, IT WOULD BE WHEN THERE WOULD BE A LARGE PROPORTION OF THE WORKFORCE AFFECTED, A LONG DURATION OF AN OUTBREAK, OR WHERE THEY DID FEEL THERE'S A PUBLIC HEALTH RISK ASSOCIATED WITH THE OUTBREAK. SO IN MY MIND THERE IS TWO PIECES TO THIS SHIFT THAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WAY WORKPLACE DATA IS BEING COLLECTED, AND I AGREE, I DON'T... I DON'T THINK THE NAMING AND SHAMING IS PARTICULARLY USEFUL, BUT I DO THINK THAT HAVING MORE INFORMATION IN THE SYSTEM ABOUT WORKPLACES IS VALUABLE.

Nam says YOU SAID THAT THERE'S TWO PIECES TO THIS. WHAT ARE THE TWO PIECES?

The caption changes to "Victoria Arrandale, @varranda."

Victoria says SO THAT FIRST PIECE IS AROUND IF THERE ARE TWO CASES WITHIN 14 DAYS. NOW, TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH IS REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO REPORT, TO DISCLOSE TO TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH. SO PREVIOUSLY THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT. AND THEN THE PIECE THAT SEEMS TO BE GETTING A LOT OF ATTENTION IS THIS CONCERN OR THIS NEW APPROACH IN THE DASHBOARD TO ACTUALLY NAME BUSINESSES WHERE THERE ARE THESE LARGER OUTBREAKS.

Nam says ALL OF THIS, OF COURSE, REQUIRES INDIVIDUALS, YOU KNOW, COMING FORWARD AND SAYING THAT THEY HAVE COVID OR EVEN IN THE FIRST PLACE TO GET TESTS. AND I UNDERSTAND YOU BOTH DON'T WORK FOR TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH. BUT I WANTED TO ADDRESS SICK DAYS BECAUSE I THINK IN ONTARIO MOST PEOPLE HAVE THREE DAYS FOR SICK DAYS, AND WITH COVID, IT'S A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME. EVEN JUST TO GET YOUR RESULT, SOMETIMES IT CAN TAKE BETWEEN TWO TO FOUR DAYS. DO YOU THINK THAT THAT COMPONENT, IT'S ONE THING FOR WORKPLACES TO REPORT THE NUMBERS, BUT MAYBE THERE'S ANOTHER PIECE ABOUT SICK DAYS THAT WE SHOULD BE ALSO TALKING ABOUT? DR. FULFORD, IN YOUR OPINION?

The caption changes to "A serious problem."

Martha says WELL, THAT'S ACTUALLY VERY IMPORTANT, BECAUSE PEOPLE DO NEED TO WORK, THEY NEED TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES, THEY NEED TO PAY THEIR RENT, AND IF WE AREN'T ACTUALLY PROVIDING A SAFETY NET FOR PEOPLE, IT'S A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION. AND OF COURSE SOME JOBS OR BUSINESSES WHERE THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO SHUT DOWN. SO, AGAIN, IF DOING THIS ALLOWS FOR A MUCH BETTER ANALYSIS OF WHY THERE ARE BREACHES GOING ON. BUT IT DOES DEPEND ON AN HONOUR SYSTEM, AND IF SOMEBODY IS ASYMPTOMATIC OR ONLY MILDLY SYMPTOMATIC AND IT'S THEIR LIVELIHOOD AT STAKE AND WE ARE NOT PROVIDING ANY SORT OF SAFETY CUSHION FOR THEM, ANY SORT OF SUPPORT, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY THERE MIGHT NOT BE THE STRONGEST INCENTIVE TO PUT YOURSELF FORWARD TO BE TESTED. OBVIOUSLY WE ARE HOPING THAT PEOPLE WILL BE. WE DESPERATELY WANT TRANSMISSION TO COME DOWN. BUT THERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT HUMAN FACTOR HERE. PEOPLE NEED TO SURVIVE, AND WITHOUT THAT SAFETY NET, WE'RE NOT DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN.

Nam says VICTORIA, THE MAYOR, JOHN TORY, HAS ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO DO THE RIGHT THING, BUT I THINK PEOPLE DO WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING, BUT IF YOU DO FIND YOURSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU COULD POTENTIALLY LOSE INCOME BECAUSE YOU ARE SICK, ARE SICK DAYS IMPORTANT TO INCLUDE IN THIS CONVERSATION?

Victoria says YEAH, I THINK THEY'RE A REALLY IMPORTANT PART OF THE LARGER SOCIAL DISCUSSION. I MEAN, PAID WORK... OR, PARDON ME, PAID SICK LEAVE REALLY DOES NEED TO BE IN PLACE IF WE WANT PEOPLE TO STAY HOME WHEN THEY'RE SICK, WHICH IS REALLY ONE OF THE PILLARS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS. YOU KNOW, I WOULD NOTE THAT THAT'S NOT WITHIN THE SCOPE OR THE ABILITY OF TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH TO IMPLEMENT. THEY DO NEED OTHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO ACT ON THAT PARTICULAR ASPECT. I KNOW IN THE CONVERSATIONS THAT I HAVE, WE DO ENCOURAGE WORKPLACES TO PERHAPS COMMUNICATE MORE THAN THEY WOULD IN OTHER SETTINGS ABOUT THE SUPPORTS THAT ARE AVAILABLE. THERE ARE FEDERAL-LEVEL PROGRAMS THAT MIGHT BE APPLICABLE. BUT THEY DON'T COVER EVERYBODY. AND SO I DO THINK THAT THIS POLICY DISCUSSION AROUND PAID SICK LEAVE IS REALLY CRITICAL TO SOCIETY GETTING THROUGH THIS.

Nam says AMAZON WAS ONE OF THE PLACES THAT WAS REPORTED TO HAVE OUTBREAKS IN THE HUNDREDS, AND THEY'VE SAID THAT THEY WOULD GIVE THEIR EMPLOYEES UP TO TWO WEEKS LEAVE. DR. FULFORD, WE'VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT OUTBREAKS IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES. HOW BAD IS THE PROBLEM IN WORKPLACES LIKE FACTORIES, WAREHOUSES, AND GROCERY STORES?

Martha says THAT, OF COURSE, IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY KNOWING WHERE THE TRANSMISSION IS OCCURRING IS GOING TO HELP US. THERE HAVE BEEN SOME SEVERE OUTBREAKS IN CERTAIN SETTINGS LIKE SOME OF THE MEAT-PACKING PLANTS EARLIER ON, SOME OF THE WAREHOUSES, BUT AGAIN, SOME OF THIS INFORMATION HASN'T BEEN AS TRANSPARENT AS WE WOULD LIKE. SO THAT'S WHERE UNDERSTANDING WHERE TRANSMISSION IS HAPPENING IS VERY HELPFUL. BUT PART OF THAT IS ALSO GOING TO BE UNDERSTANDING WHY IT'S HAPPENING. WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO GOOD INFECTION CONTROL IN A WORKPLACE. FOR EXAMPLE, IS PHYSICAL DISTANCING IMPOSSIBLE? ARE THE BREAK ROOMS INADEQUATE? DO THE STAFF HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO ACTUALLY TAKE MASK BREAKS? I THINK WE ALL KNOW IT'S EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO HAVE A MASK ON YOUR FACE ALL THE TIME, AND WE NEED TO PROVIDE SAFE SPACES WHERE SOMEONE CAN SIT WITH APPROPRIATE PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND HAVE A MASK OFF, HAVE A COFFEE, HAVE THEIR FOOD. IN HOSPITALS WE HAVE EXCELLENT INFECTION CONTROL IN OUR HOSPITALS, AND WHERE WE HAVE HAD BREACHES HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN SITUATIONS LIKE BREAK ROOMS. SO KNOWING WHERE THE OUTBREAKS ARE OCCURRING IS I THINK A HUGE STEP FORWARD. ALSO BECAUSE IT MIGHT HELP JUSTIFY... OR NOT JUSTIFY, BUT ALLOW SMALLER BUSINESSES TO REOPEN. IT MIGHT ALLOW A MUCH MORE CONSIDERED AND APPROPRIATE REOPENING OF THE ECONOMY WHEN WE NO LONGER NEED ANY SORT OF A LOCKDOWN. BUT I DO THINK THAT PART OF THIS I HOPE WILL GO ALONG WITH AN EDUCATIONAL COMPONENT FOR THE WORKPLACES, AND A REALLY GOOD LOOK AT WHY IT'S HAPPENING. THERE'S ANOTHER THING WE NEED TO DISCUSS ALONG WITH SICK LEAVE IS ACTUALLY QUARANTINE SPACE, BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE LIVE IN MULTIGENERATIONAL HOMES, THEY LIVE IN CROWDED SETTINGS, AND WE ACTUALLY HAVEN'T GIVEN OR THOUGHT ABOUT WHERE CAN PEOPLE GO IF THEY CAN'T SELF-ISOLATE? SO THERE ARE A LOT OF SOCIAL FACTORS THAT, YES, AREN'T PART OF PUBLIC HEALTH, BUT IT IS A SOCIETAL CONVERSATION IF WE'RE ASKING PEOPLE TO DO THESE THINGS. WE NEED TO ACTUALLY GIVE THEM A WAY TO DO IT.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Nam says I BELIEVE THE CITY OF TORONTO HAS HOTELS NOW WHERE PEOPLE CAN QUARANTINE, BUT I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S LIKE... EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT.

Martha says NO, I DON'T THINK SO.

Nam says YESTERDAY DR. WILLIAMS ANNOUNCED THAT SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO REMAIN CLOSED IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO FOR ANOTHER TWO WEEKS. WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WORKPLACE SAFETY, DR. FULFORD, SHOULD WE ALSO BE TALKING ABOUT OUTBREAKS IN SCHOOLS?

Martha says WELL, ACTUALLY, SCHOOLS HAVE NOT BEEN A BIG SOURCE OF OUTBREAKS. AGAIN, WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL HOW WE DEFINE "OUTBREAK." BUT IF YOU REMEMBER THE NUMBER OF TEACHERS AND CHILDREN THAT HAVE BECOME SICK COMPARED TO THE NUMBERS, SCHOOLS HAVE NOT BEEN A SIGNIFICANT SOURCE OF TRANSMISSION. AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAS NOT BEEN VERY WELL EXPLAINED, I THINK, TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. BUT ALSO ANY DISCUSSION OF AN OUTBREAK OR A CLOSURE HAS TO GO WITH THE HARM ASSOCIATED WITH IT. WE OBVIOUSLY WANT TO CONTROL THE TRANSMISSION OF COVID. BUT CHILDREN, WE ALL KNOW NOW, IT'S ONE OF THE GOOD NEWS STORIES OF COVID, IF YOU WANT TO THINK OF A GOOD NEWS STORY, IS THAT CHILDREN SIMPLY DO NOT GET SEVERE DISEASE FROM THIS. SO THEY ARE NOT AT RISK FROM COVID. BUT THEY ARE AT RISK FROM AN INTERRUPTED EDUCATION AND FROM ISOLATION. AND SO, I MEAN, SADLY, THERE HAS BEEN NO DEATHS IN ONTARIO IN A CHILD BECAUSE OF COVID. THERE WAS ONE WITH COVID. BUT WE HAVE HAD SUICIDES AND OVERDOSES BECAUSE OF LOCKDOWN DEPRESSION. WE HAVE MASSIVE PROBLEMS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. WE HAVE HUGE... EVERY HOSPITAL I THINK IN ONTARIO, PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL NOW, HAS SURPLUS OF CHILDREN WITH EATING DISORDERS COMING THROUGH, WITH MAJOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION. SO THAT'S JUST THE IMMEDIATE ONE. NOT TALKING ABOUT THE LONG-TERM HARM IN EDUCATION IN LOSS OF READING AND MATHEMATICAL ABILITIES. SO CLOSURES HAS TO BE A TOTAL HARMONIZATION. THERE ARE BUSINESSES WHERE LOCKDOWN IS WARRANTED BECAUSE WE DO NEED TO CONTROL TRANSMISSION. BUT I THINK WE HAVE TO BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL WITH THE SCHOOL SITUATION. SCHOOLS DID AN EXCELLENT JOB WITH INFECTION CONTROL MEASURES. CHILDREN ARE NOT SICK...

Nam says I JUST WANT TO INTERRUPT YOU...

Martha says EVEN THE TEACHERS...

Nam says I JUST WANTED TO SAY BECAUSE I KNOW THAT... I BELIEVE THERE WAS AN EDUCATOR IN TORONTO IN THE GTA WHO DID DIE FROM COVID.

Martha says YES.

Nam says AND BEFORE THE BREAK, WE HAD... THERE WAS TESTING AT A SCHOOL AND THEY FOUND A LOT OF ASYMPTOMATIC CASES, AND I THINK THE MINISTER YESTERDAY IN AN INTERVIEW SAID THAT THEY ARE GOING TO START TO DO ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING MORE.

Martha says AND I THINK THAT WOULD ACTUALLY BE USEFUL TO GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT'S GOING ON. BUT PART OF THE ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING IF WE'RE GOING TO DO THAT IS ALSO MAKING SURE WE KNOW WHERE COVID WAS ACQUIRED. STUDIES HAVE ACTUALLY SHOWN THAT CHILDREN MORE FREQUENTLY IN OUTSIDE GATHERINGS THAN IN SCHOOL. THE CDC ACTUALLY PUBLISHED A REPORT IN DECEMBER LOOKING AT THAT AND I THINK WE ALL WOULD KNOW THAT IN THE UNITED STATES WE'VE HAD A LARGE AMOUNT OF TRANSMISSION, IS PRETTY MUCH... I THINK WE WOULD ALL ACKNOWLEDGE IS OUT OF CONTROL, AND EVEN THERE THEY SHOWED THAT THE CHILDREN WHO HAD COVID WERE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO HAVE GOT THE COVID OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL AT SOCIAL GATHERINGS AND NOT WITHIN SCHOOLS. SO IT'S JUST A BALANCE. IT'S NOT TO SAY THAT THERE WILL NEVER BE TRANSMISSION IN SCHOOLS, IT'S NOT TO SAY WE SHOULD IGNORE IT. WE CLEARLY HAVE TO CONTINUE THE MITIGATION MEASURES. BUT IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ALSO THINK ABOUT THE IMPACT ON CHILDREN. IT'S NOT BECAUSE OF COVID, THE IMPACT IS BECAUSE OF THE RESPONSE TO COVID.

Nam says VICTORIA, WHEN WE DO TALK ABOUT COMMUNITY OUTBREAKS, KIDS GO TO SCHOOL, THEY COME HOME. MAYBE THEIR PARENTS WORK AT A FACTORY OR AT A GROCERY. WOULD THIS INFORMATION BE USEFUL TO UNDERSTANDING HOW COVID IS BEING TRANSMITTED?

Victoria says YEAH, I MEAN, I WOULD HOPE SO, AND I THINK THE PIECE AROUND THE SCHOOLS IS VERY COMPLICATED AND OBVIOUSLY AS A PARENT AND I HAVE A BIT OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST THERE. BUT THE CHILDREN ARE ONE PART OF THE PUZZLE. IT IS ALSO [INDISCERNIBLE] THERE ARE ADULTS IN THOSE ENVIRONMENTS WHO MAY BE AT HIGH RISK FOR COVID AND COVID COMPLICATIONS, AND EVERYONE IN THAT ENVIRONMENT, AS YOU SAY, ALSO GOES HOME. THEY HAVE FAMILY, FRIENDS, COMMUNITY, ERRANDS THAT THEY RUN. AND SO THE LINK BETWEEN THESE SPACES THAT WE'RE INHABITING, I THINK WE CAN'T OVERLOOK IN OUR INITIATIVE.

Nam says WE WERE TALKING ABOUT STIGMA. BOTH OF YOU BROUGHT IT UP. I KNOW AT MY KIDS' SCHOOL, THERE WAS A FEW CASES AND SOME OF THE PARENTS WERE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHICH CHILD HAD COVID. DR. FULFORD, COULD THIS INFORMATION, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT... IT IS GOING TO GIVE US INFORMATION AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING WHERE IT IS COMING FROM, BUT COULD IT BE USED TO STIGMATIZE BUSINESSES OR THOSE THAT ARE EXPERIENCING OUTBREAK AND WHAT IS IN IT FOR THE BUSINESSES TO REPORT THESE NUMBERS?

Martha says I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHY WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS. TWO CASES IN 14 DAYS WOULD REQUIRE CONTACT TRACING, KNOWING WHERE THE PEOPLE ACTUALLY GOT THE COVID, AND IT MAY HAVE BEEN COMMUNITY ACQUIRED AND IT'S COINCIDENCE. SO I THINK AS LONG AS... IF IT'S ONGOING FLAGRANT BREACHES OF INFECTION CONTROL PRACTICES OR LARGE OUTBREAKS WITH ONGOING TRANSMISSION WHERE I THINK IT WOULD BE IMPORTANT TO MAYBE PUBLICIZE THE NAME. BUT I WORRY A LITTLE BIT, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF NAMING AND BLAMING, AND THIS IS A TERRIBLE THING THAT'S HAPPENED, THE COVID OUTBREAK, BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE DOING THEIR BEST TO CONTROL IT, AND SOMETIMES AN OUTBREAK IS BAD LUCK. IT IS NOT BECAUSE ANYTHING WRONG HAPPENED. IT'S NOT BECAUSE THERE WERE ANY BREACHES OF CONTROL. IT WAS JUST BAD LUCK. SO I THINK WE JUST NEED TO BE VERY GENTLE IN HOW WE TAKE THIS INFORMATION. IT'S USEFUL. I THINK IT WOULD BE REALLY HELPFUL IN TERMS OF REOPENING THE ECONOMY TO KNOW WHERE THE TRUE HIGH-RISK SETTINGS WERE. BUT I ALSO THINK WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL THAT WE DON'T USE IT TO START TO, WELL, AS I SAY, NAME AND BLAME.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says AND, VICTORIA, HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT A WORKER WILL PASS ON THE VIRUS TO A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC?

Victoria says I DON'T THINK WE KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT, TO BE TOTALLY HONEST. I THINK THAT... YOU KNOW, I'D LIKE TO JUST NOTE THAT THIS INITIATIVE, TO GET WORKPLACES TO REPORT, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW COMPLIANT WORKPLACES WILL BE, AND AS YOU SAY, HOW MANY WORKPLACES ACTUALLY WILL KNOW WITHIN A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TIME IF THEIR WORKERS DO HAVE COVID-19. BUT IT WILL BE DONE, IN ADDITION, TO ALL THE USUAL CONTACT TRACING AND REPORTING THAT HAPPENS. AND SO IN THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE REPORTED OUTBREAKS, I WOULD EXPECT THAT THEY DON'T GET TO THAT LEVEL OF HAVING ANYBODY NAMED PUBLICLY, BUT IT WILL HELP TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH HOPEFULLY BETTER UNDERSTAND TRANSMISSION IN THESE WORKPLACES AND IN THE COMMUNITY. I THINK ONE PIECE THAT IS MISSING IS THAT WE DON'T COLLECT INFORMATION ON WHERE PEOPLE WORK SYSTEMATICALLY AS PART OF THE CONTACT TRACING PROCESS. THEY DO ASK ABOUT SOME PARTICULAR HIGH-RISK INDUSTRIES. BUT THEY DON'T ASK BROADLY. SO WE CAN'T TRACK AT A CASE LEVEL IN TORONTO WHAT OCCUPATIONS OR INDUSTRIES ARE AT INCREASED RISK OF COVID. THERE ARE OTHER PARTS OF THE PROVINCE, IN PEEL, WHERE THEY ARE DOING THIS, AND THEY ARE ABLE TO SEE WHICH INDUSTRIES ARE OVERREPRESENTED, AND THIS IS REALLY VALUABLE INFORMATION IN TERMS OF TARGETING PREVENTION INITIATIVES AND SUPPORTING BUSINESSES TO DO BETTER IN THE WORKPLACE AND TO ALLOW WORKERS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE RISKS, THEIR PERSONAL RISKS, TO ACCESS COMPENSATION. SO THESE ARE ALL VERY IMPORTANT THINGS. BUT THAT'S THE NEXT STEP, IN MY MIND. WE'VE MADE REALLY GOOD PROGRESS ON OTHER SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH LIKE COLLECTING INFORMATION ON RACE SO WE CAN LOOK AT STRUCTURAL RACISM OR LOOK AT INCOME, AND I THINK THAT COLLECTING INDIVIDUAL-LEVEL DATA ON WHERE PEOPLE WORK THROUGH THE CONTACT TRACING PROCESS SHOULD BE ONE OF THE NEXT BIG PRIORITIES, AND THAT DOES ALSO SUPPORT ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT I PICKED UP ON IN THE REPORTING OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK WAS DR. DA VILLA'S MENTION ABOUT THIS GROWING COLLABORATION BETWEEN PUBLIC HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, AND THAT MAY BE SOMETHING THAT YOUR VIEWERS DON'T REALIZE, THAT EVEN...

Nam says WHAT'S IMPORTANT ABOUT THAT?

Victoria says IT'S IMPORTANT BECAUSE ACADEMICALLY WE THINK OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AS PART OF PUBLIC HEALTH. BUT FROM A REGULATORY PERSPECTIVE, THEY'RE SILOED. SO WE HAVE THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR, TRAINING, AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT THAT OVERSEES OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY, AND WE HAVE THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH THAT, YOU KNOW, BROADLY OVERSEES PUBLIC HEALTH AND MANY OTHER THINGS, BUT THEY'RE SEPARATE. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT REGULATIONS. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT ENFORCEMENT STRUCTURES. AND SO THERE ARE SILOS THERE. AND COVID IS CROSSING THOSE BOUNDARIES, AND THOSE GROUPS OF PEOPLE NEED TO COME TOGETHER, AND I THINK THAT WE'RE TRYING VERY HARD TO DO THAT, BUT THAT'S A BIG TASK, AND WE NEED TO DO BETTER.

The caption changes to "Breaking down silos."

Nam says SPEAKING OF CROSSING, I THINK WE SAW THE EFFECTS OF IT WHEN WE HAD THE LOCKDOWN AND PEOPLE WERE LEAVING THE LOCKDOWN AREAS AND MOVING TO OTHER PARTS OF THE PROVINCE WHERE THERE WASN'T A LOCKDOWN. SHOULD THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT BE COLLECTING AND PUBLISHING THIS INFORMATION ACROSS THE PROVINCE? DR. FULFORD, I'LL START WITH YOU.

Martha says SORRY, WHICH INFORMATION?

Nam says OF WHERE THE OUTBREAKS ARE HAPPENING.

Martha says PROBABLY IF YOU START TO GET INTO EPIDEMIOLOGY, YES, IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO KNOW ABOUT WHERE IT'S HAPPENING. THE WORKPLACE CONTACT TRACING IS AN IMPORTANT POINT BECAUSE THAT WOULD HELP TO UNDERSTAND A LOT MORE ABOUT TRANSMISSION. AS WE KNOW WE SPEND LONG DAYS AT WORK, LIKE ME, WHO COME IN TO WORK EVERY DAY AND DON'T HAVE THE LUXURY OF WORKING FROM HOME. AGAIN, I THINK I WOULD BE MORE INTERESTING IN PUBLISHING OR AT LEAST UNDERSTANDING THE AREAS WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF ONGOING TRANSMISSION, AND SO KNOWING THAT IS HELPFUL. AGAIN, NOT TO POINT FINGERS, BUT TO HAVE A MUCH BETTER UNDERSTANDING WHY THIS IS HAPPENING, AND THEN FOR PEOPLE... WELL, LIKE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, PUBLIC HEALTH, TO GO IN AND ACTUALLY SCRUTINIZE REALLY WELL WHY, WHAT'S THE ENVIRONMENT IN THAT WORKPLACE THAT FACILITATED THE TRANSMISSION, BECAUSE THAT'S A VERY CONSTRUCTIVE WAY OF INTERVENING AND OF PREVENTING THE TRANSMISSION IN A WAY THAT'S EDUCATIONAL AND POSITIVE. SO IF WE KNOW, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IT'S IN THIS PARTICULAR TYPE OF DESIGN IN A GROCERY STORE, A WAREHOUSE, OR MAYBE A MULTI-BUSINESS BUILDING, TO UNDERSTAND, IS IT THE ELEVATORS? IS IT THE WASHROOMS? IS IT THE BREAK ROOMS? IS IT THAT THE EMPLOYERS ARE NOT LETTING PEOPLE HAVE ANY BREAKS? IS IT THAT THEY'RE NOT ENFORCING MASK USE OR THEY CAN'T HAVE PHYSICAL DISTANCING? SO IF WE KNOW WHERE THE OUTBREAKS ARE OCCURRING AND THEN PEOPLE CAN GO IN AND HAVE... BASICALLY ANALYSE THE SITUATION, THAT'S A WAY OF PREVENTING TRANSMISSION.

Nam says COUNSELLOR JOE CRESSY HAS SAID THEY'VE BEEN ASKING TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH TO COLLECT THIS INFORMATION FOR 16 WEEKS. IS IT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE, VICTORIA?

Victoria says IT'S DEFINITELY LATE, BUT I THINK IT'S BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, AND I THINK THAT COLLECTING MORE AND BETTER DATA ABOUT WORKPLACES AND ABOUT WHERE PEOPLE WORK IS GOING TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND THIS.

Nam says AND DR. FULFORD?

Martha says I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT.

Nam says WE CAN'T SEEM TO GET A HAND ON THIS VIRUS. HOW OPTIMISTIC ARE YOU THAT WE CAN RETURN TO NORMAL? I'LL JUST GIVE YOU EACH 30 SECONDS. VICTORIA?

The caption changes to "Losing control?"

Victoria says I'M TRYING TO REMAIN OPTIMISTIC. IT'S DEFINITELY A HARD TIME FOR EVERYONE. YOU KNOW, I'M NOT FROM A WORK PERSPECTIVE, WHICH IS THE CONTEXT THAT I STUDY, I DON'T THINK WE'RE EVER GOING TO GO BACK TO WHERE WE WERE. I THINK THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE, AND IN SOME CASES, HOPEFULLY WE CAN MAKE THAT A POSITIVE CHANGE IN THE CASE OF MAKING WORKPLACES SAFER FOR EVERYONE.

Nam says AND DR. FULFORD?

Martha says IT WILL BE A NEW NORMAL. I AM OPTIMISTIC THAT ONCE WE HAVE HEALTH CARE WORKERS VACCINATED AND THE VULNERABLE VACCINATED, THAT REMOVES A LOT OF THE PRESSURES ON THE HOSPITALS AND THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, WHICH IS OF COURSE WHY WE'RE DOING THIS. WILL WE ERADICATE THE VIRUS? NO, AMONGST. BUT... NO, I DON'T THINK SO. WE NEED TO ENSURE WE HAVE GOOD PROTECTION FOR THE VULNERABLE, AND NOW WITH A FOCUS ON VACCINATING THAT GROUP, I'M ACTUALLY VERY OPTIMISTIC THAT WE'LL START TO SEE THINGS GET BACK TO A NEW NORMAL.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Nam says I KNOW YOU'RE BOTH VERY BUSY AND WE'RE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHTS.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Martha says PLEASURE. THANK YOU.

Victoria says THANK YOU.

Watch: COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace