Canada: The Northwest Territories' Health-Specific Privacy Legislation In Effect

The Northwest Territories have enacted the Health Information Act, SNWT 2014, c 2 (HIA) which took effect on October 1, 2015. The HIA sets out rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information; the Act is designed to protect health information and facilitate the provision of health services.

Much like the health privacy statutes of other provinces, the HIA recognizes the sensitive nature of personal health information, which is frequently shared in the provision of health care and the management of our publicly funded health care system. Other Canadian provinces and territories have similar legislation, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec. Similar laws have also been passed in Prince Edward Island (Bill 42 – Health Information Act) and Yukon (Bill 61 – Health Information Privacy and Management Act), but have yet to be enacted into force.

Application and Scope of the Act

The HIA applies when (1) there is personal health information, (2) in the custody of a health information custodian, that was (3) originally collected to deliver a health service. Each of these terms are defined in the Act.

"Personal health information"

Personal health information is defined as information that either identifies an individual or can be reasonably used to identify individuals. Examples of personally identifying health information include identifiers in registration information (e.g. name, date of birth, sex, address, etc.), information about treatment history (e.g. lab orders and results, prescriptions, diagnostic imaging reports, progress notes, etc.), and scheduling or billing information (appointment dates, medical travel approval, hospital admission date, etc).

There are certain forms of personal health information that are exempt from the Act. For instance, personal health information in child and family services records, adoption records, human resource personnel records and professional licensing files are not covered by the HIA.

"Health information custodian"

The HIA applies to information held by a variety of organizations and individuals within the health care sector called health information custodians. Health information custodians include the:

  • Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)
  • Health and Social Services Authorities (HSSAs)
  • Physicians who are not employed by the DHSS or HSSAs ("private physicians")
  • Pharmacists who are not employed by the DHSS or HSSAs ("private pharmacists")

The HIA also applies to agents, which include organizations or individuals who are authorized to act for or on behalf of a health information custodian. Agents include salaried employees, contractors, appointees, information managers, volunteers, summer students, and anyone else working for a custodian. It is the responsibility of the health information custodian to take 'reasonable measures' to ensure that its agents comply with standards, policies and procedures established to comply with the HIA.

"Health Service"

The HIA applies to personal health information in the custody or under the control of custodians as it relates to physical and mental health services. The term "health service" includes both insured and non-insured services and both physical and mental health services. The HIA further outlines services provided for health related purposes that are within the scope of the Act – they include ambulance and pharmacy services (See HIA s.1, Definition of 'health service' (a)(ii)).

Rights and Obligations under the Act

To comply with the HIA, health information custodians are required to adopt standards, policies and procedures to implement the requirements of the Act (See HIA s. 8, Standards, policies, and procedures required). Custodians are also required to implement safeguards to protect personal health information, including administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect against privacy breaches (See HIA s. 85, Measures for protection of information). In the event of a privacy breach, health information custodians have a duty to notify the individuals affected (See HIA s. 87, Duty to give notice).

For the purposes of interacting with the public, custodians must name at least one agent as the HIA designated contact person. This person will act on behalf of the appointing custodian and respond to questions and complaints from the public about the collection of information and information practices (See HIA s. 12, Designated contact person).

The HIA also provides individuals with the right to access their own personal health information and the right to request a correction of this information. Health information custodians have a "duty to assist" patients to access their personal health information (See HIA s. 97, Duty to assist applicant).

The HIA further outlines the requirement to obtain consent for the purpose of collection, use or disclosure of personal health information (See HIA s.15(1), Elements of consent). A patient must give express consent before personal health information can be shared in ways that are not specifically allowed by the HIA or other legislation. Patients also have the right to set consent conditions and express instructions that limit the use and disclosure of their personal health information (See HIA s. 22, Conditions); consent can also be withdrawn at a later date (See HIA s. 24, Withdrawal of consent).

Privacy impact assessments (PIA) have also become mandatory whenever a new or updated information system or communication technology is being considered for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal health information. The PIA must be shared with the Information and Privacy Commissioner (See HIA s.89(3), Privacy impact assessment to IPC).

The monetary penalties for contravention of the HIA or its regulations are set at $50,000 in the case of an individual and $500,000 in the case of a corporation. There is a three year limitation period (from the date of discovery of the alleged offence) on the prosecution of offences under the HIA and its regulations (See HIA s. 192, Offence and punishment). However, custodians, agents, the IPC and providers of information have immunity from liability as long as their (in)actions were taken in good faith (See HIA s. 180, Immunity from liability).

Moving Forward

The Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by private individuals and  organizations across Canada, except in those jurisdictions in which privacy legislation has been enacted that has been deemed to be 'substantially similar'. The Federal Government has not yet granted HIA substantial similarity status, and as a result, private pharmacists and physicians must follow both PIPEDA and the HIA, until such status is granted. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions