May 24, 2022
By Jeremy Logan
Ontario’s privacy watchdog is looking into the dossier of information the City of Toronto compiled on homeless people as it planned to clear a park where they lived last year.
The development comes after The Canadian Press revealed the inner workings of the city’s months-long planning of its operation to clear parks of encampments that had popped up during the pandemic.
Internal documents show the dossier kept notes on behaviours, health information and photographs of those who lived in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario says it has reached out to the City of Toronto to obtain further information, noting it can also launch its own investigation if it suspects a privacy breach has occurred.
The city says it has responded to the privacy commissioner, saying the collection of personal information was in accordance with freedom-of-information laws.
A city spokesman says it collected the information to better understand the “individual housing, health and supportive needs” as it sought to find a spot indoors for those living in encampments.
The documents upset some people who lived in the Trinity encampments at the time, who say they did not consent to city’s collection of their personal information nor did they know the information was being collected.
Internal documents obtained by activists through freedom-of-information laws and shared with The Canadian Press show top bureaucrats planned the June 22, 2021 operation for months.
The documents show there were 268 city workers, along with dozens of police officers involved in the clearing of the parks.
Several clashes eventually broke out between police, the homeless and their supporters, with police in riot gear moving in near the end of the day and clearing the park with force.