A Canadian Human Rights organization is sounding the alarm after Ontario quietly gave police services access to a new database with the names, date of birth, and address of everyone in the province who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The emergency order, issued by the Ministry of Health back in April, allows the personal information of COVID-19 patients to be shared with police, firefighters and paramedics. The government said the data would provide first responders with the “tools they need to do their jobs and keep Ontarians safe.”
In a statement posted on their Twitter account, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) said, “Providing personal health information directly to law enforcement is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. Such a measure should only be taken when clearly authorized by law and absolutely necessary given the particular circumstances.”
Toronto-based lawyer Abby Deshman, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the CCLA, said the province “needs to be extremely clear what the use for the information is, why it’s necessary and how this is legal.” She told CTV News Toronto police officers are going to get incomplete information because testing is limited, adding, “It’s hard for us to see how police will use this information to protect themselves or the public.”
Deshman emphasized that health information is usually “tightly controlled and disclosed only to health providers” and finds it worrisome it is being shared with law enforcement.
Officials say the database will be inaccessible to first responders once the state of emergency is lifted, but have not disclosed any more details.
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