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Police says their use of the Coronavirus database was appropriate after human rights groups raised concern

KAWARTHA LAKES-The City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service (KLPS)has responded to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and other groups who had concerns about its “extremely high” level of access to the COVID-19 testing database.

Access to the portal was authorized by the Ontario government as part of its plan to limit the spread of Coronavirus and enhance the safety of police and fire personnel who have continued to provide emergency services throughout the pandemic.

Police say the do not believe staff used their access inappropriately.

“We do not believe there was any unauthorized or inappropriate use of the portal.” said KLPS.

Police services across Ontario accessed the coronavirus database 95,000 times in a matter of months according to civil rights groups. Over 40% of these searches were conducted by two police services: Thunder Bay Police Service and Durham Region Police Service. Thunder Bay Police Service in particular accessed the personal health information in the database over 14,800 times – a rate of access that is ten times higher than the provincial average – even though the area has reported only 100 positive cases since the outset of the pandemic according to the groups.

However on a per capita basis the Kawartha Lakes Police Service was second in terms of access. Officers in the Lindsay area accessed the database 1015 times or 3.8 times per 100 people. Thunder Bay Police had the highest per capita at 12.5 times per 100 people. By comparison the OPP accessed the information 3692 times and Peterborough Police just 22 times.

Read more here:

https://www.kawartha411.ca/2020/08/20/kawartha-lakes-police-asked-to-explain-extremely-high-access-to-coronavirus-testing-database/

The City responded to the concerns of the Aboriginal Legal Services, Black Legal Action Centre, The Civil Liberties Association, The HIV and Aids Legal clinic and the Privacy Commissioner on Monday.

In the letter police say they believe their numbers were elevated in part because of the shared call centre with fire services.
“It’s also important to note that KLPS Communications Centre is a dual purpose facility and also provides dispatch services for the City of Kawartha Lakes Fire and Rescue Service.” said the letter signed by Don Thomas the Chair of the Police Services Board and Chief Mark Mitchell. “During that same time period an additional 728 fire related call for service were handled through our communications centre. We believe that the inclusion of the Fire related calls, and the authorized use of the portal in those instances, in our overall  umbers to be a significant factor in the perception that our use of the portal was unusually high.” said the letter.
Police say access to the portal was limited to a Communications staff of 8 full time and 5 part-time staff. Training and supervision on the use of the portal was provided by the Director of Information Services.(DIS)
According to police The DIS monitors compliance with the regulations on a near daily basis and provided regular updates to communication staff as new information was disseminated by the Ministry.
“We strongly believe it was the right decision and that the portal was established in a manner that achieved its objective while simultaneously respecting the privacy rights of all Ontario citizens.”

 To review the letter to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario in its entirety  visit KLPS website at www.kawarthalakespolice.com.

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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