Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pan-Canadian Health Information Privacy and Confidentiality Framework

Canadians expect and have confidence that the privacy and confidentiality of their personal information will be protected when governments use it in the course of providing programs and services. In no field is the maintenance of this trust more critical than in the health sector.

Recognizing the importance of privacy, the Federal/ Provincial/Territorial Conference of Deputy Ministers of Health tasked its Advisory Committee on Information and Emerging Technologies to develop a Pan-Canadian Health Information Privacy and Confidentiality Framework. The objective of the Framework is to respond to Canadians' privacy and confidentiality expectations and to suggest a harmonized set of core provisions for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information in both the publicly and privately funded sectors. Consistent, or at least more consistent, privacy regimes among jurisdictions would facilitate health care renewal, including the development of electronic health record systems and primary health care reform.

The Framework is a valuable tool to inform and influence any privacy legislative process within jurisdictions affecting personal health information. Since the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) applies in jurisdictions which, unlike Quebec and British Columbia, have not adopted "substantially similar" legislation, the Framework can also serve as a guide to achieving that objective. However, it is also understood that it is only a guide, not a prescription. The actual intent and wording of jurisdictional legislation will ultimately determine whether the legislation can result in an exemption from PIPEDA. Quebec did not participate in the development of the Framework, while Saskatchewan withdrew near the end of the process.

For more information on Pan-Canadian Health Information Privacy and Confidentiality Framework please visit - http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/pubs/ehealth-esante/2005-pancanad-priv/index_e.html
Health and the Information Highway Division, Health Canada January 27, 2005

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