In August of this year, my office was made aware of a potentially disproportionate number of inquiries by several police services in Ontario into the COVID19 First Responder Portal. We contacted those police services to inquire into the circumstances behind those high numbers to determine if there was unlawful use or retention of the information they may have accessed from the portal.
In four instances, my office was satisfied with the responses received from the police services. We determined that the number of searches of the portal were not disproportionate, and audit results did not suggest accesses beyond what would be reasonably expected in the course of responding to emergency calls. Additionally, we found that there was no inappropriate retention of personal health data by those police services after the portal was shut down in August. Our view was that they took appropriate steps to ensure personal information was used in accordance with Ontario’s privacy laws.
As for the remaining police services whose responses to our initial inquiries were not complete or satisfactory at face value, we have opened an investigation file and continue to gather information from them. If any reports are produced at the conclusion of our investigation into this matter, they will be made available to the public at that time.