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Manitoba Ombudsman releases comments and recommendations in response to FIPPA and PHIA reviews

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Jun 27, 2017

Manitoba Ombudsman has posted its comments and recommendations in response to the Manitoba government’s legislative reviews of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) on its website.

“Since 2004, when FIPPA and PHIA were last reviewed, many changes have occurred to the way in which information is collected, stored, used, disclosed and managed,” said Ombudsman Charlene Paquin. “It is important to assess the impact of these changes on the operation of the acts. The consultation process also gives citizens an opportunity to share valuable insights into how to strengthen the legislation.”

The ombudsman’s submissions contain comments and a total of 68 recommendations to amend both acts, which include recommendations to address key areas, such as:

  • Balancing the need to ensure that exceptions to the right of access are specific and clear in their intent, and do not impinge on the right of access any further than necessary.
  • Balancing the discretion to refuse access under FIPPA with the public’s right to know with a “public interest override,” which would enable consideration of whether the disclosure of information that could be withheld would serve a broader public interest.
  • The need for security safeguards to ensure that electronic personal and personal health information is protected, to reflect the increasing use of new and innovative technologies to manage and share citizens’ information.

“My office’s submissions reflects our day-to-day experiences with the acts and our knowledge of the issues that arise between citizens and public bodies and trustees. Our submissions also reflect changes that have been made or proposed to relevant legislation in other parts of the country,” said Paquin.

Read the ombudsman’s full comments and recommendations in response to the legislative reviews of FIPPA and PHIA at https://www.ombudsman.mb.ca/info/fippa-and-phia-review.html

About FIPPA and PHIA

FIPPA and PHIA provide access to information and privacy rights for citizens. FIPPA provides a right of access to information, including one’s own personal information, held by public bodies, subject to limited and specific exceptions set out in the act, to facilitate openness and transparency. PHIA provides individuals with a right of access to their own personal health information held by trustees. Both acts provide a right to privacy by setting out rules that restrict how public bodies and trustees collect, use, disclose, protect and retain personal information and personal health information.

Under FIPPA and PHIA, the ombudsman investigates complaints from people who have concerns about any decision, act or failure to act that relates to their requests for information from public bodies or trustees, or a privacy concern about the way their personal or personal health information has been handled. In addition to the investigation of complaints, FIPPA and PHIA enable the ombudsman to undertake other activities including consultation, advice and comments to public bodies and trustees about access and privacy implications of their programs or practices, as well as proposed legislation.