A legal professional who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, who is being treated as presumptively positive, or who becomes aware that someone with whom they have had close contact has tested positive, may be required to provide information to a provincial health officer or their designate, pursuant to the relevant provincial or territorial public health act and regulations. The information sought might include the names and contact information of individuals with whom the professional has had recent contact. This may include the names of and contact information for clients. Under some circumstances, health authorities may also seek more detailed information such as the nature of the lawyer’s recent encounters with individuals or their duration. Such information is confidential and, in some circumstances, may be privileged.
We have received questions about whether a lawyer is permitted to provide information about a client to health authorities without obtaining client consent. In a collaboration between Canadian law societies, guidance was created to deal with this type of situation.