ONTARIO EXPANDING DATA COLLECTION TO HELP STOP SPREAD OF COVID-19Published on June 18, 2020
TORONTO — In response to requests by community leaders and public health experts, the Ontario government is proposing a regulatory change to mandate the reporting of data on race, income, language and household size for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. This will help ensure the province has a more complete picture of the outbreak. This change will allow for the collection of data in a consistent way across the province, while ensuring the privacy of Ontarians is protected.
"As the COVID-19 outbreak has evolved locally, Ontario's public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "As has been requested by community leaders, we are taking action to support and expand the work needed to help protect our communities all across the province."
Under these proposed changes, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 infection will be asked additional questions about their race, income, languages spoken, and household size. Individuals can choose not to answer any or all of these questions. Individuals' privacy is protected as it is for all information currently collected on other diseases.
"We recognize that some Ontarians may be at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. This includes racialized Ontarians and individuals with lower incomes," said Elliott. "Collecting these data will help guide decisions as work continues to stop the spread of the virus and protect some of our most vulnerable people."
Collecting data province-wide, and in a standardized way, will ensure a more complete picture of the outbreak is captured. The province will continue to work with local public health units and other health care partners to implement effective policies to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- To help implement this data collection effort, the province is engaging with health equity stakeholders and experts, including the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate and Indigenous partners.
- Anonymized data will be made available to recognized researchers through the Ontario Health Data Platform, but protecting individuals’ privacy protection is the priority.
- The province recently implemented the new phase of its COVID-19 testing plan to detect and quickly stop the spread of the virus. The significant expansion of testing will go hand-in-hand with local public health units’ ongoing case and contact tracing efforts.
- Ontario has increased public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance and laboratory and home testing.
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19