Frequently Asked Questions


I have determined that I am a service provider, under this act. When can I share personal information about a supported child or his or her parents or legal guardians with another service provider or trustee?

You can share personal information about a supported child, parents or legal guardians when:

  • the personal information is about a supported child or about the supported child’s parent or legal guardian
  • the personal information will help to plan or provide services or benefits for the supported child
  • you reasonably believe sharing the personal information is in the supported child’s best interests

The above conditions must be met in order to share personal information under the act.

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How do I know what best interests of the supported child means?

Under the act, any disclosure (sharing) of information must consider the best interests of the supported child. Understanding how to determine best interests of the supported child requires you to use your professional judgement of context-specific situations, and recognize that each situation is unique (different). Although determining the best interests of a supported child will depend on the circumstance of each supported child, the following are questions that may be relevant in making a reasonable and objective determination:

  • Does the disclosure support or enable services or benefits that will enhance the supported child’s health, safety, mental, emotional, physical or spiritual well-being?
  • Will the disclosure avoid disruption or enhance stability in the supported child’s life?
  • Will the disclosure avoid or reduce the risk of harm to a supported child?
  • Will non-disclosure delay the provision of important services or benefits for the supported child?
  • Will the disclosure enhance services and benefits that are already being provided to the supported child?

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I am about to share personal information about a supported child with another service provider. What should I be mindful of?

  • You need to share the minimum (least) amount of information necessary to plan or provide services or benefits for the supported child.
  • You need to take reasonable steps to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date.
  • You need to share relevant information about the strengths of the supported child and his or her parents or legal guardians, if possible.
  • You need to ensure that you are not subject to another act (law) that may prohibit sharing the personal information.

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Why are children who need an individual education plan considered to be supported children, according to this act?

The Public Schools Act requires that when a school team has identified that a student has exceptional learning needs that require student-specific outcomes that are additions to, different from or exceed the curricular outcomes, then an individual education planning process should occur. Schools are responsible for ensuring that parents are informed of students’ progress at the regularly scheduled reporting periods throughout the year or more frequently if programming changes are deemed appropriate. Schools are also responsible for involving parents, legal guardians, and students (when appropriate), as well as teachers and other professionals in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of students’ individual education plans (IEPs).

Children with IEPs are included in the act to allow service providers and trustees under The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) to collect, use and share personal information with other service providers, and connect children (students) with services and supports outside of the school system. Information about children with IEPs or their parents or legal guardians can only be shared if the service provider (e.g., a school team members or a school division administrator) believes the disclosure is in the supported child’s best interests.

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I am a service provider. Do I have to share personal information about a supported child if another service provider asks me?

It is up to you, as the person who holds (has) the personal information, to determine if it is appropriate to share it. Consensus among service providers or trustees is not required. However, you need to remember that, in order to be able to share the personal information, it must be about a supported child or about the supported child’s parent or legal guardian. The information should only be shared for the purpose of planning or providing services or benefits to the supported child, and you should reasonably believe that sharing the information is in the supported child’s best interests.

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I am a service provider and in my agency, a current practice is to obtain consent from a client before I share their personal information with another service provider. Should I continue to do this now that this act is in place (in force)?

This act allows you to share personal information about supported children and their parents or legal guardians without their consent. Timely sharing of information between service providers can play a crucial role in protecting the safety of at-risk children, and promoting their well-being.

Although consent is not required before sharing personal information, it is a best practice to inform parents, legal guardians and supported children over 12 years of age that you have the legal authority (ability) to share their personal information with other service providers and trustees. If possible, this should happen before you collect their personal information. To assist you in this process, please see the Notification Guidance Sheet.

It is important to note that every case is different. You should consider whether it is reasonable to notify children, parents and legal guardians, as the case may be.

Lastly, before sharing any personal information about a child with the child’s parent(s) or legal guardians(s), you should ensure that there is legal authority to share the information under another Manitoba or federal law, including The Personal Health Information Act or The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

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I have shared personal information about a supported child’s parent with another service provider. Should I inform the parent about this?

It is up to you, as a service provider, to determine if it is appropriate and in the supported child’s best interests to let the parent know that personal information about them has been shared. In most circumstances it is a best practice to work with parents, legal guardians and supported children and let them know about information sharing. Ideally, your agency or organization (employer) will develop or have policies to provide guidance on this process.

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I am a trustee under The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA). With whom can I disclose information?

Under this act, you can share personal health information about a supported child with another trustee or with a service provider. However, if you are not a service provider under this act, you cannot share personal health information about a supported child’s parent or legal guardian with service providers or other trustees. As a trustee, you should familiarize yourself with other legislation that applies to you and determine which act takes precedence (priority) in each situation. For more information about trustees and their ability to share information: Service Providers and Trustees

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I am an agency director and one of my staff members has shared personal information about a supported child with an employee (service provider) in another agency. The supported child’s parent believes that it was done in an incorrect and unethical way. How can this parent voice his concerns?

If parents, legal guardians or supported children feel that a service provider has inappropriately shared their personal information, there are different options for them to make a complaint. They can bring their concern to the attention of:

  • the service provider’s supervisor or manager
  • the government department or agency that is responsible for licensing the workplace of the service provider, if applicable (e.g., Child and Family Services agencies license foster homes).
  • the Office of the Children’s Advocate
  • the organization that is responsible for regulating the profession of the service provider, if applicable (e.g., the Manitoba College of Social Workers and the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba)
  • the Manitoba Ombudsman, if the service provider who shared the personal information is required to follow The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) or The Protection of Health Information Act (PHIA).

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Can I share personal information about a child receiving services funded or provided by the federal government (e.g. some services on reserve)?

The act allows information sharing in order to plan or provide services and benefits that are provided by or on behalf of the provincial government.  As a provincial law, the act does not apply to services that are funded or delivered by the federal government (e.g., nursing stations on reserve).  This means that, under this act, personal information about children cannot be disclosed for the purposes of planning or providing federally funded services.  In addition, the act does not authorize the disclosure of personal information about children by the federal government. However, the act does authorize service providers and trustees to share information about children who meet the definition of “supported child” under the act, whether those children live on or off reserve.  

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I have shared personal information about a supported child with another service provider. Should I keep records or notes?

Under this act, there is no obligation to create a record when you share or receive personal information. However, if a record (e.g., a case note) is made or received, you must protect the information against unauthorized access, use, disclosure or destruction (e.g., store records in a locked file cabinet when you are not working with them). Also, when the record is no longer required, you must destroy it in a way that protects the privacy of the person(s) the personal information is about.

If you are a trustee or a service provider who is required to follow another act that has more detailed obligations about keeping records (e.g., The Child and Family Services Act or The Personal Health Information Act), that other act takes priority.

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The definition of personal information includes the views and opinions held by a service provider about a supported child or his/her parents or legal guardians. Does this act not create the ability for misinformation or rumours to be spread?

Personal information may only be shared with other service providers or trustees. When sharing personal information, you are required to assess (evaluate) their opinions and views, based on the situation. For example, if you are foster parent (i.e., a service provider) it is appropriate for you to tell a doctor that you believe the foster child is experiencing post traumatic stress disorder, especially if sharing this view (opinion) can help to inform the medical examination or treatment for the supported child.

In order to share information, you must believe that the disclosure of information is in the supported child’s best interests. In addition, you must ensure that the information you share is accurate and not misleading.

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