Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS) - Privacy impact assessment summary


Statistics Canada is conducting the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS) from November 2020 to March 2021. This survey collects health data on the current COVID-19 pandemic by asking selected participants to complete an electronic questionnaire and provide a blood sample from a self-administered finger prick (dried blood spot sample). This voluntary survey will be sent to approximately 48,000 Canadians, aged 1 and over, across the provinces and territories. It is expected that approximately 20,000 respondents will complete the entire survey (questionnaire and blood sample).

All processes of the CCAHS have been reviewed and approved by the Health Canada/Public Health Agency of Canada Research Ethics Board to ensure that internationally recognized ethical standards for human research are met and maintained.


A privacy impact assessment for the CCAHS was conducted to determine if there were any privacy, confidentiality or security issues with this survey and to make recommendations to resolve or mitigate any issues.


This survey was developed in consultation with the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF). The CITF is funded by the Government of Canada and is composed of members from various domains, including universities, hospitals and the public health sector. The CITF was created to support the development and implementation of population-based serological studies (using blood tests) on the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to better understand the impact of the pandemic in Canada.

Results from this survey will provide important information on the health status of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, including an estimate of the prevalence of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This survey will also provide a platform to explore new measurement techniques, as this is the first time that self-administered blood samples are being collected from a nationally-representative sample of Canadians.

Risk Area Identification and Categorization

The PIA identifies the level of potential risk (level 1 is the lowest level of potential risk and level 4 is the highest) associated with the following risk areas:

Risk Area Identification and Categorization
  Risk scale

a) Type of program or activity

Program or activity that does not involve a decision about an identifiable individual.


b) Type of personal information involved and context

Sensitive personal information, including detailed profiles, allegations or suspicions and bodily samples, or the context surrounding the personal information is particularly sensitive.


c) Program or activity partners and private sector involvement

Private sector organizations, international organizations or foreign governments


d) Duration of the program or activity

One-time program or activity


e) Program population

The program's use of personal information is not for administrative purposes. Information is collected for statistical purposes, under the authority of the Statistics Act.


f) Personal information transmission

The personal information is transmitted using wireless technologies.


g) Technology and privacy

The CCAHS does not require the implementation of new technology or modifications to legacy systems to support the creation, collection or handling of personal information.

h) Potential risk that in the event of a privacy breach, there will be an impact on the individual or employee.

There is a very low risk for a breach of any personal information being disclosed without proper authorization. The impact on the individual would be high, as it could negatively affect their reputation because of the stigmatization related to certain health conditions or illnesses.


This assessment of the CCAHS did not identify any privacy risks that cannot be managed using existing Statistics Canada safeguards and procedures, as well as those in place at the various laboratories being used. Any remaining risks are either negligible or are such that Statistics Canada is prepared to accept and manage.

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