Workplace COVID-19 Outbreaks Are Not Listed in Toronto: Why That Could Change Soon

Toronto’s Board of Health is calling on the city’s top doctor to begin publicly releasing information about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The motion, which was unanimously passed during a recent meeting, asks Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa to “implement a system to publicly share details about workplace outbreaks without compromising individual privacy”, as is already done in the case of outbreaks at shelters, long-term care facilities, schools and childcare centres. 

During a briefing, de Villa said that Toronto Public Health wants “to put information in front of the public so they can help themselves and make good decisions”, but she said that staff also seek to balance privacy concerns of those who may test positive for COVID-19. For that reason, Toronto Public Health has often refused to confirm outbreaks at specific workplaces, citing a need to avoid providing information that could “identify an individual case or their close contacts”.

At the end of the day, the fundamental goal of public health is to improve the health status of the population and to reduce any inequities in that health status and in so far as the sharing of relevant information supports that, that is what they seek to do everyday.