Concerned citizens say our increasingly digitized world could easily pave the way for a Chinese Communist-style social credit system.
It’s already happened. In Canada. For months on end between provinces and territories with vaccine passports and for the better part of a year federally through the ArriveCAN app.
These concerns have been heightened in recent weeks as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed $196.1 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories for health-care expenditures and improvements.
A portion of this funding — $25 billion worth — will go to four areas of shared priority.
This includes family health services, health workers and backlogs, mental health and substance abuse, and — the one that has Canadians concerned about medical privacy — an ambiguously worded priority of a “modernized” health system.
They’re saying that the funding is to help accelerate progress.
“Canadians deserve to know what progress is being made. That is why to access their share of the federal funding, including the 5 per cent CHT (Canadian Health Transfer), provincial and territorial governments are asked to commit to improving how health information is collected, shared, used, and reported to Canadians to promote greater transparency on results, and to help manage public health emergencies,” an Ottawa news release reads.
The intent is to modernize the health-care system with standardized health data and digital tools, according to a Government of Canada backgrounder notice.
It includes “$505 million over five years to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), to Canada Health Infoway and federal data partners to work with provinces and territories on developing new health data indicators, to support the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data, to advance digital health tools and an interoperability roadmap, and to underpin efforts to use data to improve safety and quality of care.”
Many have expressed privacy concerns around digital identity initiatives, like the one being currently implemented by the Ontario government.
Yet almost every premier has denounced the speculation that the funding increase will infringe on personal and private health information, like Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
The thing is, the provinces and territories have always shared general health-system data with the feds, on a public health level — not personal, private information. But as with all ambiguously worded legislation that is typical of this Liberal government, the way that this “modernization” is actually implemented on the ground is open for debate.
In addition to Ontario’s digital ID program, Newfoundland and Labrador also have a digital ID pilot project in the works.
The last time the Trudeau Liberals dabbled in digital ID was with the notoriously controversial and failed ArriveCAN app, a digital surveillance tool that cost Canadian taxpayers $54 million and collected no data as to whether or not it the app had a net benefit or stopped the spread of a seasonal respiratory virus.
Adding to the litany of ethics breaches by this same government, the legality of the costly and useless app is being questioned and scrutinized by lawyers at The Democracy Fund.
This government has been notorious for not only ethical breaches but also privacy infringements, after the Public Health Agency of Canada bought private Canadian cellphone data from telecommunications giant Telus to track and monitor COVID-restriction compliance.
It would seem that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and how digital health passes and vaccine passports were utilized to segregate the clean from the unclean, coerce medical autonomy in a direction that followed the masses, and otherwise ostracize those making different medical choices than the mob, it’s fair to be concerned about this “modernization” of digital health tools and systems.