The tender for a contract for the info grab of Canadians' cellphone data was previously reported by Rebel News. A motion to suspend the tender was unanimously adopted by members of the House standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.
Yet, the Public Health Agency of Canada did not cancel the tender.
The new information comes from an inquiry of the Ministry of Health response read into the Hansard record to a question posed Michael Barrett, Conservative MP for the Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Lakes:
With regard to the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) response to the unanimously supported first report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics: (a) has PHAC abided by the section of the report saying that the government is to "suspend the Public Health Agency of Canada's cellular data tender upon adoption of this motion“; (b) if the answer in (a) is affirmative, on what date was the program suspended; and (c) if the answer in (a) is negative, who made that decision and why was the decision not to adhere by the unanimous recommendation made?
Mr. Adam van Koeverden, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport was tasked with crafting the response and in it, he admitted the agency would not be backing off the data scoop unless the Privacy and Ethics Committee put a stop to it:
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the related motion adopted in the House of Commons on February 8, 2022, the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, determined that it was not possible to suspend the mobility data request for proposal, the RFP. It would have had to be either cancelled and then reissued, or closed. As such, the RFP closed on February 18, 2022. As the RFP is finalized, PHAC will take into account the study findings of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in its decision on whether it is in the public interest to award the contract.
Rebel News also reported, through exclusively obtained access to information documents, that cellphone provider Telus Communications was awarded a $200,000 contract to retroactively provide tracking data of users to the Public Health Agency of Canada dating back to January 2019.