Tim Houston: ‘Premier Rankin should ask other Premiers for the help he needs to fix Nova Scotia’s testing backlog’

Late Friday, Nova Scotians were made aware of a large backlog of 45,000 unprocessed COVID-19 tests. The backlog was so severe, the Premier was forced to stop - at the worst possible time - all asymptomatic testing at COVID-19 primary assessment centres.

PC Leader Tim Houston says the Premier must clearly inform Nova Scotians what steps have been taken to catch up and get results to those anxiously awaiting them.

“The new Premier hasn’t indicated whether he’s asked other provinces for help,” said Houston. “Has he asked the federal government for help? Has he asked for further help from the military? Other Atlantic provinces with lower test counts likely have capacity, we should have asked them immediately on learning of the backlog. Has that been done yet?”

The 45,000 test backlog was discovered last Thursday. Houston notes that the Premier spent Friday morning boasting about our asymptomatic testing on national television despite knowing he would have to cancel much of it just hours later. That same morning, and despite knowing of the backlog, he tweeted about Nova Scotia’s case numbers going down before having to admit that his framing of the numbers was not accurate.

Houston calls the disclosure of the backlog “odd,” noting that the government did not report the number of tests conducted on Wednesday or Thursday, and that the lab reported receiving 22,000 specimens in one day, prior to the announcement of a 45,000-test backlog. He is calling for a clear explanation.

“He must have known the backlog was growing and the reported case numbers were understated. You can’t have 45,000 tests appear out of nowhere with no build up. That doesn’t make sense.”

Houston says that when the government is straightforward with Nova Scotians, directions are easy to follow, but that must be met with action from the new Premier.

“Nova Scotians continue to do everything asked of them, whether that’s staying home, getting tested, or working in the lab to clear the backlog,” said Houston. “I’d like to see the Premier do support them by picking up the phone and asking for help.”