Re: BCCDC provides overall COVID-19 number for Delta
The mayor, council and all Deltans may be interested in seeing COVID case numbers that I believe have never been seen publicly before.
In May 2020, yes last year, I submitted Freedom of Information requests to PHSA/BCCDC to provide COVID case counts for about 30 main cities in B.C.
The request was for the months of March 2020 and April 2020. You’ll recall this was just when the pandemic was starting off as Canada-U.S. borders were closing and a health emergency was declared in B.C. At that time many people and groups were asking for more data and information about COVID case location, but the BC Government refused stating “privacy issues.”
After some email discussions with PHSA, in November 2020 I received a response to my request stating that the COVID counts could not be released by PHSA/BCCDC because they felt the counts by city could “re-identify” individuals with COVID and “would be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.”
I disagreed with this response because in my view there is no way to “re-identify” individuals from a count in a city over a two-month period.
For example in March; Delta 22, White Rock 5, Vancouver 288.
On Nov. 14 of 2020 I appealed to the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) to review this decision. The OIPC reviewed the decision and agreed that my request was reasonable. With their help I received the majority of the data I requested from PHSA/BCCDC on July 5 2021.
The data shows 22 cases for Delta in March 2020 and 15 in April 2020.
My reason for the FOI request was to demonstrate that this data is highly unlikely to “re-identify” people and violate anyone’s privacy and in fact, if this data was released early in 2020, I believe it could have helped prevent some spread of COVID.