'Unconscionable': Sask. doctors criticize province for no longer sharing COVID-19 modelling data

A pair of Saskatchewan doctors say the province should share COVID-19 modelling data to help both physicians and residents prepare for what could be coming.

In a physician’s town hall Thursday evening, Dr. Susan Shaw, the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s chief medical officer, confirmed the modelling data is available, but is not being widely shared with doctors across the province as per a decision by the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Hassan Masri, an ICU physician in Saskatoon, said the ministry has made a “conscious decision” to withhold the data from health-care workers.

He added the modelling could indicate how long the current fourth wave would last and it could also help physicians consider what personnel are needed in the province’s ICUs as they run over baseline capacity, and how long they might be needed for.

With the current numbers available, Masri estimates the current wave could last eight to 10 weeks – if not into January – unless there’s a dramatic change with the current public health measures.

“I think it is quite disheartening to know that the modelling data is being kept away from the medical community and from the public,” he said.

Masri said modelling can also indicate how people need to change their behaviours to avoid a worst-case scenario.

“We should know what kind of a situation we're in, and how we can get out of it.”

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, a University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist, said doctors are unable to put up a full fight against the COVID-19 pandemic when there’s a lack of transparency and communication.

“I think it's really unconscionable. It erodes whatever modicum of trust there is, if there's any trust at all between frontline workers,” Muhajarine said.

“The least the government can do is to level with them, to meet with them where they are, and ask them how the government can help them do their work better.”

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment, but did not receive a response before the stated deadline.

With files from CTV Regina's Allison Bamford.