NS COVID-19 Update for 9 June 20

Daily briefing

Today’s briefing began with both Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang offering their condolences to the family and friends of the most recently announced victim of COVID-19, a woman in her ’70s in the Central Zone who was not a resident of a long-term-care facility (LTCF) and who had underlying conditions.

Dr. Strang explained that the woman had actually died a number of weeks ago but her death has been under investigation to ensure COVID-19 was, in fact, the cause. Strang said later in response to a reporter’s questions that in instances like this, Public Health speaks with clinicians and the medical examiner where applicable to make a determination regarding cause of death. Strang said some patients may have had a mild case of COVID-19 when they died but the virus was not the primary cause of death.

Dr. Robert Strang, NS COVID-19 Update for 9 June 2020.

Dr. Robert Strang, NS COVID-19 Update for 9 June 2020.

He noted that the epidemiology is looking positive, but cautioned against reading too much into a few days of low to no new cases, explaining that they’ve had two consecutive weekends during which they’ve discovered cases from an unknown exposure, meaning there is some sign of community transmission. Strang said Public Health will be watching the epidemiology very closely over the next two weeks, which will be critical in determining next steps in the province’s reopening, which could happen at end June/early July.

Strang addressed the issue of missing data, explaining that when the pandemic hit, Public Health had been finalizing implementation of its Panorama information system, and had not yet integrated the microbiology lab. He said they have now successfully integrated the lab and as of tomorrow will be reporting reconciled information. (What he termed the “gold standard” of accurate information. This will come, I know, as a relief to everyone whose “active cases” calculations have been producing negative numbers.)

Strang also encouraged Nova Scotians to vacation at home this summer to support the local economy. He noted that with school officially over (as of June 6) and campgrounds opened or (in the case of provincial facilities) soon to open, people will be traveling more and he said people should go to their cottages, go fishing, go for a hike, ride a bike, go to dinner in a restaurant, with the proviso that they respect Public Health rules on gathering sizes, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

Strang ended by saying that he’s been hearing from the various inspectors (occupational health and safety, alcohol and gaming) who were apparently out in force this weekend that they were very impressed with the measures businesses have taken to allow them to open safely.



Total new cases: 1

Total cases: 1,060

Total hospitalized: Subject to reconciliation

Total in ICU: Subject to reconciliation

Total recovered: Subject to reconciliation

Total deaths: 62

Total long-term-care facilities (LTCF) affected: 1

LTCF residents: 1 (Northwood)

LTCF staff: 0

Total positive and negative tests to date: Subject to reconciliation

Age range of patients: under 10 to over 90



The premier was asked about a June 7 letter from three Independent Nova Scotia Senators to Federal Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey calling for a joint federal-provincial inquiry into the mass shooting “and related matters” in Nova Scotia.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Ministers Blair and Furey,

We are calling for the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia to immediately launch a joint and equally-led public inquiry into the recent Nova Scotia mass shootings and related events.

Amidst a pandemic that has shut down major parts of the economy and imposed barriers to human connection, Nova Scotia has faced the deadliest mass shooting incident in Canadian history. In the chaos that unfolded in mid-April, twenty-two Nova Scotians lost their lives. The murderer also brutally assaulted his spouse early on in the rampage. Canadians deserve to know what happened and what actions the police and others took or could have taken to prevent or better mitigate this situation.

As independent Nova Scotia Senators, we understand the need to tackle all issues surrounding this tragedy in an objective, unbiased and nonpartisan manner. A joint inquiry would help everyone better understand what transpired and to learn from this tragedy. If properly conducted, the joint inquiry could lead to changes to policies, practices and procedures and hopefully give us the tools to prevent future tragedies of this nature.

We are of the opinion that this public inquiry must include a detailed assessment of multiple issues, including but not limited to:

  • What are the details of what unfolded over the 13 hour killing spree and what occurred in the time leading up to that period?
  • What was the role (if any) of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Why was the provincial emergency alert system not initiated?
  • Why was there a delay in sharing the information regarding the murderer’s impersonation of an RCMP officer?
  • When stopped by police, the perpetrator was possibly heading into a highly populated urban area, what plans did the police have to intercept him before that occurred?
  • How did the perpetrator acquire his weapons and what can be done so that in the future, others will not be able to do so?
  • What were the problems in the processes designed to ensure identification and effective response to previous reports of domestic violence, threats and weapon acquisition that involved the perpetrator?
  • What caused a breakdown in communication amongst federal – provincial jurisdictions?
  • What are the communication protocols between Halifax Regional Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police related to the special warning(s) that was issued and were all protocols followed?
  • What changes in law are required to have multiple reports of violent misogynistic behaviour addressed by not just police, but by mental health experts as well?
  • How can we better conduct threat assessments in our communities to avoid these kinds of tragedies?

We strongly believe that the inquiry must address the social and public safety issues which are related to this tragedy, and not just focus on the details of how the RCMP responded to the events as they unfolded.

A feminist lens will be critical to the inquiry’s success. Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, Women’s Shelters Canada, Feminists Fighting Femicide and the Canadian Women’s Foundation point out that chronic spousal abuse and misogyny are often linked to larger violent acts in our society.

We must seek to change how the current system addresses this violence. Following a tragedy, the warning signs become abundantly clear, but law enforcement and other responders must be equipped to intervene before harm is inflicted.

We, like many Canadians, are committed to improving public trust in those whose duty is to serve and protect and to provide them with the necessary tools to succeed.

We look forward to an immediate announcement of a comprehensive, thorough and fulsome public inquiry, jointly and equally led by the federal and provincial government, that addresses the details of this event as well as the complex social and structural issues that are related to it.

Yours sincerely,

Senator Mary Coyle
Senator Colin Deacon
Senator Stan Kutcher

McNeil said conversations on the subject of an inquiry were ongoing between Furey and Blair to ensure “all players will be at the table.”



The subject of virtual healthcare came up a couple of times today. The order permitting doctors to meet with patients by phone or via internet is due to expire on June 30 and the premier was asked if there was any thought of making the practice permanent.

McNeil said no one devising the program had “fully appreciated” how much Nova Scotians would like it but that talks were underway with Doctors Nova Scotia to “see what it’s going to look like” after we come through the first wave of COVID-19.


Government workers

Strang was asked if his staff would get a break now that the first wave of the pandemic appeared to be ending, and said his is a small team and they have a lot of work to do to prepare for a likely second wave, but that people are “really tired” and they’re trying to figure out how to give everyone a rest while still accomplishing what needs to be done.

Asked about reopening government offices and expanding the services offered at those which have remained open (like, offering driver’s tests at Access Nova Scotia centers), McNeil said there are conversations underway about how to open up service centers, and community services centers, and other government offices, bearing in mind that some offices have hundreds of people in them and they are “working out what the work week will look like” and how many employees will come in at any given time. McNeil said they will have more to say about it “in a week or two.”


Reduce, reuse

Asked if he was worried about used protective equipment (gloves and masks, I presume) ending up in the sewer system, the premier said he would hope people would use common sense and either dispose of items in the garbage or recycle them if possible.

Dr. Strang put in a plug for locally made washable/reusable masks.


Mandatory payments

McNeil was asked why municipalities are being asked to make mandatory payments to the province for services like education when school has been suspended for months. The premier said that there is a “portion of municipal funding” that goes toward these services (public housing, corrections, education and the property value corporation) but that his government was working with the federal government to ensure they relieve some of the pressures on municipal governments due to COVID-19.