Edmonton police chief pleased Shandro taking action on officers being coughed, spat on during pandemic

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee said Tuesday he is pleased to hear Alberta’s health minister has signed a ministerial order allowing law enforcement agencies to access information about citizens’ COVID-19 status in cases where officers have been spat or coughed on by someone claiming to have the disease.

“I think this is a positive decision for the health and safety of not only our police officers, but for the citizens we serve as well.”

At a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro spoke to reporters about the order he signed a day earlier.

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“We take confidentiality seriously, but we will not tolerate our front-line workers being put at risk in this way as they work to keep the rest of us in this province safe,” he said. “The information would only be provided if a person exposes a police officer by coughing, spitting or sneezing on the police officer and claims that they are infected with COVID-19.

“It would confirm whether or not an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days, so that the staff member — the police officer — knows, if he or if she needs to self-isolate.”

Shandro said that Ontario and other jurisdictions are taking similar actions to address the issue.

Global News reached out to Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer’s office for comment on how much of a problem such cases have been for law enforcement officers in Alberta.

“Law enforcement agencies would likely be best to provide any data as well as how specific measures may have an effect on them,” Jonah Mozeson, press secretary for the office of the minister of justice and solicitor general, said in an email.

Global News has also reached out to the RCMP and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta for comment.

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