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Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)

Amendments to The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)

Effective January 1, 2011, amendments to The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) respecting the Information and Privacy Adjudicator came into force.  Ron Perozzo, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Registrar for the Lobbyists Registration Act in Manitoba, has been appointed Manitoba’s first Information and Privacy Adjudicator. Although this appointment comes under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), he will have a similar role under PHIA.

The Ombudsman model works very well at protecting the access and privacy rights of Manitobans. In the majority of cases, the Office of the Ombudsman is successful at resolving access and privacy complaints and the role of the Ombudsman will remain essentially unchanged. However, in the few cases that the Ombudsman is unable to resolve, she will now have the ability to ask for a review by the Information and Privacy Adjudicator.  

The Adjudicator will be able to make binding orders that Trustees must comply with. Among other things, the Adjudicator’s orders may apply to:

  • access to personal health information
  • fee charged for access to personal health information
  • corrections to personal health information
  • change or putting a stop to the way personal health information is collected, used, disclosed or destroyed 

These amendments follow amendments made to PHIA effective May 1, 2010. The earlier amendments were made to improve patient safety by supporting the individuals’ right to access his or her personal health information in a timely manner. The amendments also state that Trustees must make these rights known to the individuals either by written notice, a poster or brochure.  

For more details on these amendments, see the links below and the Brief Summaries and Trustees’ Guides on this site.


The Personal Health Information Act

The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) provides you with the right to:

  1. access your personal health information, and
  2. have your personal health information kept private

when that information is held by a health care provider, health care facility or public body (referred to in the Act as "trustees").

Access

The right of access means that you can ask to see, or get a copy of, personal health information about you.  You also have the right to request a correction to this information if you feel it is inaccurate or incomplete. 

Access to your health records allows you to make informed decisions, based on complete information, about your health and health care.

Privacy

PHIA also recognizes that personal health information is private and should be held in confidence by those who maintain it. This enables you to discuss things you might find sensitive or embarrassing with trustees without worrying that they will discuss it with others inappropriately.

In order to protect your right to privacy, PHIA imposes obligations on trustees when they collect, maintain, use and share your personal health information.

When trustees collect personal health information from you, they will normally use that information for the reasons it was provided. For example, if you discuss personal health information with a health care provider, he or she will use that information to provide you with the care you are seeking.

Before trustees can use this information for other reasons -- or share it with people outside their organization -- they should generally get your consent. There are some exceptions to this obligation, however. Here are a few examples:

  • A health care provider may share information about you with another provider who is involved in your care, as long as the information is relevant and as long as you haven’t asked the first provider not to.
  • A hospital may contact your family and inform them that you are hurt or injured if you can’t inform them yourself.
  • A hospital or personal care home may discuss, with family members and close friends, care you are currently receiving in the facility, as long as the facility believes you wouldn’t object.
  • A trustee might share personal health information with an outside agency if it is necessary to prevent serious harm to you or someone else.
  • A trustee might also have to share personal health information about you if another law requires them to do so.

For a complete list of the exceptions to consent, see sections 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 of PHIA.

For more information, please contact:

Legislative Unit
Manitoba Health
300 Carlton Street
Winnipeg MB  R3B 3M9
Phone:  204-788-6612
Fax:  204-945-1020

Email: PHIAinfo@gov.mb.ca