Sask. privacy commissioner calling for 'as much transparency as possible' about COVID-19
REGINA -- Saskatchewan’s information and privacy commissioner says he’d like to see “as much transparency as possible” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“There is a balancing act that must be done between public interest and privacy,” Privacy Commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski said in a release. “There is a big gap between giving no information and all information.”
The province isn’t currently releasing case information in communities outside of Regina and Saskatoon. The rest of the Saskatchewan is divided into regions: far north, north, central and south.
Kruzeniski says officials can “provide de-identified personal health information,” including how many people are sick or have died in a city, town, municipality, area or region.
Giving someone’s name or address would be too far, the commissioner said. He also said there is a chance that naming small communities could identify a person. Kruzeniski suggests using workarounds by saying “one person in the Ituna vicinity” or “one person north of White City.”
“The idea is that officials can be transparent and provide as much information as is possible, but still avoid identifying an individual,” he said.
As case numbers rise, Kruzeniski said health officials will be able to provide more statistical information because there may be more people in a community or area affected by the virus.
Officials are making many decisions, Kruzeniski said, and those decisions should be made available to the public one day.
“Governments at all levels will be spending a lot of money and the citizens will want to know, when this is all over, how and when all those decisions were made,” he said.
On Wednesday, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer said everyone should be practicing proper physical distancing measures, regardless of whether or not there is a COVID-19 case in their community.
"It would be a fallacy for us to say a test result dictates risk," Dr. Saqib Shahab said.
Premier Scott Moe said transparency is a “work in progress.”
On Friday, Moe and Shahab said more information may be released as the number of cases in the province continues to grow.
"We have endeavoured to expand the information that we are providing as we move through the days," Moe said.