Nova Scotia

COVID-19 outbreak at N.S. facility for people with disabilities not made public

Nova Scotia said to protect the privacy of residents, a COVID-19 outbreak at a facility for people with physical and intellectual disabilities was not made public.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson says province wanted to protect the privacy of residents

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said people who were directly affected by the outbreak and family members were informed, but not the public. (Robert Short/CBC)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a large facility for people with physical and intellectual disabilities in Nova Scotia wasn't disclosed to the public, because the province says it wants to protect the privacy of residents.

Documents from the facility obtained by The Canadian Press say that in the days after Christmas, two workers at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville, N.S., and one resident had contracted COVID-19.

The centre, which is home to 159 residents, declined all comment, referring the matter to Public Health.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said after cabinet Thursday that — unlike nursing homes — the province won't disclose details about outbreaks at the publicly funded, non-profit centres.

She cites the privacy of the people who live there and says that family members of those who test positive, and others who are "directly impacted" by the outbreaks, are kept informed.

Leta Jarvis, who has a brother at the facility, says all next of kin of residents and the public should be informed to help raise awareness of the risks people at the centres face.

Cyndi Carruthers, director of disability advocacy group People First Nova Scotia, also says groups such as hers need to be informed so they can better campaign for oversight and resources for people living in those facilities.