Dr. Jim Chirico defended his controversial form of communication during a taped online media conference recently.
The North Bay Parry Sound District's Chief Medical Officer has been questioned about the way he runs his news conferences.
Unlike other regions, and even the Province, Dr. Chirico has elected to only answer questions via email prior to the event which closes the door to any additional or follow-up questions by the media.
By contrast, the Simcoe-Muskoka Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, for example, goes live on Facebook to answer questions from residents, and the media can phone in immediately following the presentations to get questions answered.
But the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit asks for media questions hours in advance, then sends out a link and media then watches Chirico answer the questions in a pre-taped format.
"We communicate our decisions openly and in a timely manner," stated Chirico when questioned about his unique protocol.
"Of course there is always room for improvement in all the things we do. I do not have all the answers to all the questions related to COVID-19, I wish I did. We try to advise the public of what we do know that informs the decisions that we make. We cannot communicate based on rumours.
Chirico defends the policy by saying they need to ensure the accuracy of everything they release.
He doesn't feel the media need that information first.
"Would parents be okay hearing that their child could be at risk of COVID-19 through the media or directly from the school or the health unit?
"My guess is through the school or the health unit. So we prioritize every parent of a high-risk child is contacted before we publicly confirm any information."
Chirico says while he does understand the media's frustration over his policy, he insists it doesn't mean he is not answering all the questions he is asked.
"We do not pre-select questions. All questions are answered and by having questions submitted prior to the press conference we are able to quote all the required data," stated Chirico.
"As you can understand there is a team of people working on COVID-19 meaning I need to connect to departments to find the information you are looking for to ensure you have the most accurate and up-to-date data."