Emergency Order Allows First Responders Access to COVID-19 Information
Date: April 9, 2020
The Ontario government has made an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) which allows specified first responders to have access to “COVID-19 status information” about persons with whom they are coming into contact in the course of their duties. The government announced that the information will be used solely for the purpose of permitting first responders “to take appropriate safety precautions to protect themselves and the communities they serve.”
O. Reg. 120/20, Access to COVID-19 Status Information by Specified Persons, authorizes the first responders to make a request from a “specified custodian” (defined as a laboratory licensed by statute or a medical officer of health) for “COVID-19 status information.” That term is defined and means a person’s name, address, date of birth, and whether that person has tested positive for the virus.
The first responders who may make such a request are (s. 2, O. Reg. 120/20):
- A police officer as defined in the Police Services Act
- A member of a police force other than a police officer as defined in the Police Services Act
- A First Nations Constable appointed under section 54 of the Police Services Act
- A member of a police service in which policing is delivered by First Nations Constables
- An individual employed as a firefighter as defined in section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997
- An individual who is,
- engaged in providing fire protection services as defined under section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, and
- employed in a fire department as defined under section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997
- A paramedic as defined in the Ambulance Act
- A communications officer within the meaning of O. Reg. 257/00 (General) made under the Ambulance Act.
A specified custodian must take all reasonable steps to provide the COVID-19 status information within its custody and control in a timely manner to the first responder making the request. This can be done by providing the information either directly to the first responder, or to the Ministry of Health (where it has developed a system to facilitate access to this information for the purpose of this order) so that the Ministry may provide it to the first responder.
The Ministry of Health, as may be necessary in order to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of the emergency, may collect COVID-19 status information and use and disclose it to the first responder.
This order is in effect for the duration of the emergency declared under the EMCPA.
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