National data standards in the works after COVID-19 highlighted info gaps: Hajdu

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OTTAWA — Health Minister Patty Hajdu says federal officials are working on national standards for health data collection after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted major gaps in information.

She told a Senate committee today that national standards — and ensuring information is shared quickly with Ottawa — is part of ongoing negotiations with the provinces over $14 billion in new federal COVID-19 transfers.

Hajdu says she was surprised to learn of the “fractured” way in which data is collected in the provinces and territories and how difficult it can be to have it reported to the federal level.

She says more detailed data is needed to track how vulnerable certain populations are to the novel coronavirus and notes that raced-based data has not been available at the federal level in part because not all jurisdiction have been collecting that information.

Dr. Theresa Tam told the committee that when the COVID-19 outbreak first began, federal public health officials had a hard time getting even basic epidemiological data from the provinces and territories to get a national picture of transmission rates.

The chief public health officer says that basic data is now coming in more quickly, but officials are working on getting more detailed information about specific populations.

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