Rebel News filed for access to information from the Saskatchewan Health Authority to gain copies of reports relating to the alleged threats SHA claimed staff received in the wake of an unscientific Twitter gaffe.
The tweet, posted September 1, 2021, from the verified SHA account read:
Your risk from COVID-19 is not determined by age, fitness level or community. Your risk is determined by vaccine status. 78% of all new cases and hospitalizations in Saskatchewan in September were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
According to SHA's own website, COVID comorbidities influencing the risk of hospitalization for the disease are age, weight, and lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Rebel News filed for access to communications relating to the planning and fallout from the tweet after the fact, and received heavily redacted documents with the names of several of those involved in the SHA social media flub blacked out.
The redactions were justified with this explanation:
Unfortunately, the SHA was forced to disbanded comments on Facebook in early September and removed the ability to reply to SHA tweets, and have set up an auto-response on direct messages with staff told to ignore abusive messages because of the visceral and threatening nature of comments directed towards those monitoring and running the channels - abuse has include swearing, threats etc. This ongoing abuse has resulted in sick leave for our employees and we have had to ensure conscious breaks in their schedule to get away from what they experience daily. We have received direct and threatening comments made towards 'whoever is running this channel'. With the current situation, the SHA has redacted the names and identifiers of the people who run the social media platforms under section 20 of the Act.
A series of threats so awful people the public was denied information they are allowed access to under information laws? Abuse so great that government workers are on sick leave? Surely someone called the cops? Or made any report, whatsoever?
Well, we asked to see them.
Provide copies of all documents, including e-mail, texts or instant messages, [Slack messages], WhatsApp messages, memos, briefing notes, etc., regarding the reporting of any threats (as identified in the response to SHA-2021-22-051} to authorities since October 1, 2021.
According to the SHA, there were no reports made to any police service regarding threats health bureaucrats say they received.
Our Communications team conducted a comprehensive records search and there are no records in our possession or control for the reporting of threats as identified in SHA-2021-22-051 to law enforcement. Therefore, in accordance with clause 7(2)(e) of the Act, the SHA must refuse access to the records as they do not exist.
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