COVID-19: Application of the Quarantine Act Border Measures (Compliance verification call centre – PHAC 2 and 3) (November 2020)

Description of the Quarantine Act compliance enforcement

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enhanced border measures authorized by the Quarantine Act were introduced to ensure appropriate actions are taken to reduce the spread of the virus. These measures require travellers entering Canada to provide travel, contact and/or quarantine information, as applicable, upon arrival at the Port of Entry (POE), as well as provide information to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Border Services Officer (BSO) regarding their symptom self-assessment.

Further to this, the Government of Canada published the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation), a federal Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act. This order exempts certain travellers, e.g., essential workers, from the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. In addition, it requires any non-exempt traveller entering Canada without symptoms to quarantine for 14 days upon entry, or to isolate for 14 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19. The Public Health Agency (PHAC), in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and CBSA, has rolled out three phases of work to support the compliance and enforcement of the Quarantine Act:

  1. PHAC 1 – ESDC support: In order to enhance compliance verification call capacity, PHAC sought the support of the Service Canada Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) call center to contact travellers in Canada during their quarantine/isolation period to verify their compliance with the federal requirements. Under the Quarantine Act, Service Canada staff were trained and designated as Screening Officers (DSOs). Call agents will attempt to contact up to 2000 new travellers per day.
  2. PHAC 2 - Inbound and outbound dial campaign for quarantine confirmation:  Travellers to Canada are encouraged to utilize the toll-free, inbound Interactive Voice Response (IVR), to voluntarily report whether they have arrived at their place of quarantine/isolation within 48 hours of entry into Canada. In addition, an outbound automated call feature contacts travellers with the objective to provide education to improve compliance with the Quarantine Act.
  3. PHAC 3: Symptom reporting: Travellers will be enabled to report whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis during their 14-day quarantine period through the Inbound IVR survey.

Why was a Privacy Compliance Evaluation completed

In accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Interim Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment, a Privacy Compliance Evaluation was completed in place of a full Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). As a new program and urgent COVID-19-related initiative, Quarantine Act Compliance Enforcement meets the criteria for a Privacy Compliance Evaluation. A full PIA will be completed and submitted to TBS and to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, in accordance to the timeline described in the Directive.

Summary of privacy issues and mitigation strategies

The Privacy Compliance Evaluation examined the collection, use, disclosure and retention of personal information of all Government Departments responsible for establishing and supporting Quarantine Act Compliance Enforcement. The Privacy Compliance Evaluation recommended the following actions to mitigate privacy risks:

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