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Advisory for trustees about responding to individuals’ access requests under PHIA during the COVID-19 pandemic

The presence of COVID-19 in Manitoba is affecting the operations and staff levels of trustees’ offices and organizations. Trustees should make efforts to comply with PHIA as is reasonably possible. However, this is an exceptional circumstance and we understand that trustees may be unable to meet the response requirements under PHIA and this will have an impact on individuals’ right to timely access to their personal health information.

Manitoba Ombudsman offers the following guidance to trustees for responding to access requests from individuals:

If trustees have any questions about the above, please contact our office by phone or email. Please be aware that our office’s responses may also be delayed due to the pandemic.


The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) came into force on December 11, 1997. It was the first legislation of its kind in Canada designed specifically to provide access to information rights and protection of privacy rights concerning personal health information. Significant amendments to PHIA came into effect on May 1, 2010, and January 1, 2011.

PHIA applies to "trustees": health professionals, health-care facilities, public bodies and health services agencies that collect or maintain personal health information. The act governs an individual's access to his or her own personal health information held by trustees and sets out requirements that trustees must follow to protect the privacy of personal health information.

Personal Health Information Act

Personal Health Information Regulation

For more information on the legislation, see the Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living (MHSAL) PHIA pages at that include brief summaries on PHIA and trustee guides.

MHSAL has developed a PHIA Online Training Program to assist trustees in complying with PHIA. For information about this program, please see

Users of our website are cautioned that our guides to and summaries of the legislation are not exhaustive. The original text should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying the law. Our opinions, comments and recommendations are based on substantive investigation, research and analysis, but we are not legal counsel or a court of law.


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