Conservatives call for emergency meeting of Ethics Committee | Jan 12, 2022
Ottawa, ON – Conservative Members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics have called for an emergency meeting to discuss the collection of mobile data by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Today, MPs John Brassard, Damien Kurek, Lianne Rood, and René Villemure sent the letter below to the Clerk of the Ethics Committee requesting an emergency meeting to discuss the fact that PHAC secretly collected the mobile data of 33 million Canadians during the pandemic, and their plans to continue this practice.
Recently, media reports confirmed by a government spokesperson state that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) “collected and used mobility data” of Canadians. These media reports go on to say that PHAC collected data on 33 million mobile devices in Canada. To make matters worse, according to a request for proposals on the Government of Canada’s Procurement website, PHAC is planning to continue the practice of collecting Canadian’s mobile data for the next five years.
It is extremely alarming that a government body would use the pandemic as an excuse to secretly collect the mobile data of Canadians. There are many questions that arise from PHAC’s decision to collect this mobile data. Why was this practice not clearly communicated to Canadians? What safeguards were put in place to protect this data? Who authorized PHAC to do this?
In addition, there is currently a request for proposal by PHAC that closes on January 21, 2022 to continue this surveillance for up to five years, hastening the need for our committee to deal with this in a timely manner.
As Members of Parliament, it is imperative that we get answers to these questions. Canadians are rightly concerned that some have used the pandemic as an excuse to essentially track and collect the mobile data of Canadians without clear communication and safeguards.
That’s why, we, the undersigned members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, request that, pursuant to Standing Order 106(4) you convene an emergency meeting of the Committee.