PHAC Cooperating with HRPS over Screening Officer Arrest

By: Laura Steiner
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is aware of the situation in Halton Region involving one of its Quarantine Screening Officers.
The officer, identified  by Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) as 27 year old Hemant of Hamilton stands charged with one count each of sexual assault and extortion.  “The Public Health Agency of Canada is aware of the situation, and is very disturbed by the alleged events,” Health Canada Spokesman Eric Morrissette said in statement.  PHAC is cooperating fully with police on this issue.
The Quarantine Act  gives the Public Health Agency of Canada the authority to screen incoming travelers to Canada for COVID19, and ensure compliance with the 14-day quarantine period.  The agency awarded four different companies initial contracts to do in-person compliance checks in January.  January 29, the checks began in Montreal and Toronto.  National roll-out began earlier this month.  PHAC reaches 6,500 travellers per day.
The screening officers are licensed.  They have to go through a series of online self-study courses relating to the Quarantine Act, Screening Officer designation and Privacy Basics and Privacy Impact Assessment, and pass an exam.  Additional training on Compliance and Enforcement as well as the ArriveCAN app. Officers are also required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, agreeing to only use the information for compliance and verification purposes.  There have been approximately 30,000 compliance visits so far, according to the agency’s numbers.
Officers are unable to issue tickets, demand payment or conduct arrests.  Hemant is scheduled to appear in court March 23, 2021. Police are concerned there could be other victims.  Those with information are encouraged to come forward either anonymously to Crime Stoppers or by calling: 1-800-222-8477.