BC FIPA publishes “Personal Health Information and the Right to Privacy in Canada: An overview of statutory, common law, voluntary and constitutional privacy protection”

BC FIPA has released “Personal Health Information and the Right to Privacy in Canada: An overview of statutory, common law, voluntary and constitutional privacy protection”, a law reform report prepared by Susan Prosser of the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC).

The report outlines the gaps in protection in existing provincial privacy laws, the disparity in sources of privacy law and privacy policy, and the divergent interests of those involved in the administration of Canada’s healthcare system.

Confidentiality and informed consent form the backbone of the medical system. As Bruce Phillips, the federal Privacy Commissioner, argued in his 1996-97 Annual Report, “an individual’s right to control the disclosure of personal medical information should be paramount. That right should be overruled only in the face of an overwhelming and compelling public interest (or to provide the patient emergency care).”

If the federal and provincial governments fail to pass legislation which protects individuals’ rights to privacy, it will be up to the courts to decide under what circumstances individuals have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy and whether legislation that permits either use or disclosure to third parties without consent passes constitutional muster.

Download the report (pdf).