Statement of information practices of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care
Learn how the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care collects, uses and discloses personal health information.
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To ensure the proper oversight and promotion of the health and well-being of the people of Ontario, the Ministry of Health (MOH) collects, uses, and discloses the personal health information of individuals who use the health system in Ontario.
This written statement describes:
- how the ministry collects, uses, and discloses your personal health information
- how you can access and correct records of your personal health information
- practices and safeguards that the ministry maintains with respect to personal health information
- how you can make a complaint
On November 1st, 2004, the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) came into force. This law:
- sets out the rules “health information custodians” must follow when collecting, using and disclosing your personal health information
- gives you the right to request access to and correction of your personal health records
MOH and the Ministry of Long-Term Care (MLTC) together are a single health information custodian under the Act.
Often, the ministries will collect, use and disclose your personal health information with your consent where it is necessary for a lawful purpose.
Under PHIPA, you have the right to consent, or to withhold your consent, to the ministry’s collection, use and disclosure of your personal health information, except in specific circumstances where the law authorizes the ministry to collect, use or disclose your information without consent (for example, such as reporting and use for public health purposes).
In cases where the ministries will collect, use or disclose personal health information without your consent, it will do so only where it has clear authority under PHIPA.
Collection of personal health information
MOH and MLTC collect your personal health information:
- directly from you
- from a person acting on your behalf (where applicable)
- indirectly from others (such as healthcare providers)
As a health information custodian, the ministries will not collect personal health information if other information will serve the purpose. In addition, the ministries will not collect more personal health information than is reasonably necessary to meet the purpose.
Uses and disclosures of personal health information
MOH and MLTC use personal health information to:
- process, monitor and verify claims for payment for publicly funded healthcare services (for example, through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan)
- determine or verify eligibility of individuals with respect to healthcare
- plan, administer and evaluate programs and services funded by the ministries
- plan and manage the health system
- conduct research in accordance with PHIPA
- undertake specific activities as permitted or required by law (for example, to comply with a court order)
- for purposes related to their statutory functions, including the administration of the laws for which they are responsible
- de-identify data to carry out planning activities such as statistical analysis of data, on an anonymized basis, so as to not identify a particular individual
The ministries also may disclose personal health information for these purposes or other purposes such as:
- improving the provision of healthcare through prescribed registries
- analyzing data by/through prescribed entities to inform health sector planning and management
The ministries may also provide personal health information to Ontario Health for the purpose of developing and maintaining the provincial electronic health record to support the provision of care.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care do not trade or sell personal health information.
Practices and safeguards to protect confidentiality and security of personal health information
The ministries have well-established administrative, technical, and physical safeguards and practices in place to protect the confidentiality and security of information in their custody and under their control. Many of these safeguards and practices apply across the Government of Ontario. For example, under the Public Service Act, civil servants are required to take an oath of secrecy.
The ministries maintain physical safeguards, such as facility and premises access controls and “clean desk” practices, in addition to technical safeguards, such as unique user identification for access to electronic systems and security features to protect information transmitted electronically.
The ministries comply with various policies including those governing:
- workstation use and security
- confidential information
- retention of recorded information
- password protection
- faxing procedures
- usage of electronic mail systems
The ministries take steps regularly to ensure that staff is aware of these policies. When relying on third parties for services, the ministries address the party’s obligations with respect to confidentiality and security of information in written agreements.
Accessing and correcting your records of personal health information
Under PHIPA, you have the right to request access to and correction of your records of personal health information that are under the ministries’ custody or control.
If you want to see or correct your records, you may make a written request to the contact person identified below.
For more information about the information practices, please contact the Manager, Access and Privacy Office by:
Manager, Access and Privacy Office
Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care
99 Adesso Drive, 1st Floor
Concord, Ontario L4K 3C7
If you have a complaint about the ministries’ information practices or access to your record of personal health information, please contact the Manager of the Access and Privacy Office.
You may also make a complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC). The IPC can be contacted by:
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8