PHM-Canada has joined a coalition healthcare providers, community members, healthcare researchers, community organizations, communities excessively targeted for criminalization, and healthcare organizations across Ontario who oppose to inappropriate use of police power and privacy violations by law enforcement. The coalition issued a an open letter to government officials to demand an end to the sharing of Personal Health Information—including COVID-19 status and all socio-demographic information related to COVID-19 status—with law enforcement across Ontario.
We demand that the public be informed of how this data will be used, offered the option of confidential COVID-19 testing in community health settings, and that each person accessing healthcare is given the opportunity to give fully informed consent regarding this data collection in healthcare settings. The public is owed a data collection and usage plan that has a prescribed scope and clear rationale for data collection. Further, detailed information must be provided to the public verbally and, in writing, including on an accessible website, regarding the storage, use, protection, and disposal of such data.
Slowing down COVID-19 in Ontario requires widespread trust in the interventions being implemented to contain the pandemic. Communities across Ontario continue to express a lack of trust in police forces due to demonstrated lack of accountability. Police forces have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy custodians of private health data. Structural and systemic inequities have led to excessive criminalization of key communities including Indigenous and Black, 2S & LGBTQ* communities, people experiencing homelessness, people who use drugs, people living HIV, people with disabilities, and people living with mental illnesses. The communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and are the same communities disproportionately targeted by increased policing and surveillance. Ontario cannot afford to further lose public trust in pandemic responses during this critical moment.
Read the full letter, list of signatories, and calls to action here.