Privacy Commissioner expands transparency of decisions under Personal Health and Information Act

IPC will publish PHIPA decisions at any stage of the dispute beginning October 10

Privacy Commissioner expands transparency of decisions under Personal Health and Information Act

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) has recently issued a notification of a change to the information it publishes in its decisions under the Personal Health Information Protection Act 2004 (PHIPA).

Beginning October 10, the IPC may publish PHIPA decisions at any stage of dispute resolution, including early resolution, investigation, and adjudication. PHIPA decisions may include the name of the respondent and affected persons unless doing so would identify the complainant or any person whose personal health information is at issue.

The IPC's previous practice is to publish PHIPA decisions made during adjudication, including the respondent's name and affected persons, unless doing so would reveal the identity of a complainant or person whose personal health information is at issue. PHIPA matters resolved through early resolution and investigation may be published but do not generally name the respondent or affected persons.

The IPC's updated "PHIPA Practice Direction #3" reflected this recent change. The IPC urged readers to read the practice direction in conjunction with the Code of Procedure for Matters under the Personal Health Information Protection Act.

The "PHIPA Practice Direction #3" describes when a decision of the IPC under the PHIPA will be made available to the public. It also explains which parties will be identified by name in that public decision.

When a decision of the IPC is made publicly available, it will generally not name the complainant or any person whose personal health information is at issue. However, the IPC may invite representations from the complainant, respondent, or any affected person before the publication of a decision where the complainant, respondent, or any affections are named.

The IPC said in its notice of change that the purpose of the amendment in the process for publishing the names of respondents is to allow the IPC to exercise its statutory role to educate the public and provide transparent information about the IPC's decisions under PHIPA, including its reasons. 

The change is not retroactive and will not affect previous PHIPA decisions.

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