The last two months have seen the provinces, the federal leadership, as well as municipalities have taken several legal steps in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Major constitutional issues have popped up and could later result in massive constitutional challenges in the future.
Physical and social distancing measures are already generating controversies because of association and assembly freedoms infringements. Alongside these issues are; contact tracing on cellphone data, domestic violence, resource distribution, hospital decisions, power division lines in federal and provincial lines regarding public health, and legislative powers delegation. The COVID-19 lens will help to determine the Canadian constitutional landscape.
Municipalities and provinces in Canada have instituted certain measures that have terminated some non-essential activities. schools and government offices to restrict usage of public facilities. The media has aggregately decided to refer to the measures as lockdowns on a constitutional standpoint, but it is wise to evaluate all the details. A quick evaluation of Ontario and California by Sujit Choudhry can help to understand the perspective.
With the decline in coronavirus infections, governments are charting a route out of strict measures and lockdowns, and reopening the public facilities and the economy. Sujit Choudhry emphasizes on contact tracing because it is a crucial weapon in public health facilities’ arsenal.
Ideal contact tracing entails spotting individuals who have contacted the infected people to notify them for successive containment measures to be followed, mainly self-isolation. Recently, manual contact tracing has been done through interviews or even outdated detective operations. Mobile phones facilitate contact tracing via cellphone data mostly in the populous areas.
Germany, Singapore, and South Africa have adopted the approach, and once the app is downloaded, the Bluetooth or GPS tracks all the details of the mobile user regarding the people they have contacted. If they test positive, the notifications are dispatched. No consensus exists about how these apps should apply, disclose and retain coronavirus information.