The Department of Health and Community Services is responsible for setting the overall strategic directions and priorities for the health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador. In doing so, the department works with partners like private sector care providers (e.g., doctors and pharmacists), Regional Health Authorities, community organizations, professional associations, post-secondary educational institutions, unions, consumers and other provincial government departments.
To properly oversee programs and services intended to maintain and promote the health and well-being of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the department collects, uses and discloses the personal health information of individuals who use the health system in the province, in accordance with applicable laws.
This privacy statement applies to the personal health information that the department collects, uses or discloses in the course of operating and administering provincial health programs and services. This privacy statement describes:
- How to contact the department if you have a question about our information handling practices
- How the department collects, uses and discloses your personal health information
- How the department safeguards your personal health information
- Your right to access and request correction of records containing your personal health information
- How to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to discuss a concern you might have about the department’s information handling practices
The Personal Health Information Act
On April 1st, 2011, the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) came into force in Newfoundland and Labrador. This law:
- Sets out the rules that “custodians” of personal health information must follow in collecting, using, disclosing and safeguarding your information
Provides Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with the right to request access to and correction of records containing their personal health information
- The Department of Health and Community Services is a “custodian” under the Personal Health Information Act. Other examples of “custodians” under the Act include health care professionals like doctors and pharmacists in private practice and the province’s Regional Health Authorities.
For more information about the Personal Health Information Act, please visit the department’s website at www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/PHIA.
Department’s designated contact person
If you have a question about how the department collects, uses or discloses your
personal health information, or if you would like to request access to or the
correction of a record containing your personal health information, please contact the
department’s designated contact person:
Department of Health and Community Services
West Block, Confederation Building
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6
Telephone: (709) 729-4984
Fax: (709) 729-5824
Our information handling practices
Our privacy commitment to you
The department takes your privacy seriously and is committed to safeguarding the confidentiality of your information. The department will only collect, use or disclose your personal health information in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Health Information Act and its regulations or where otherwise permitted or required by law.
Collection of your personal health information
The department collects your personal health information for purposes related to overseeing the health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador. Those purposes include:
- Collecting personal health information from you directly in order to provide you with health care services. For example, the department might collect information from you in order to provide you with a benefit through a program such as the provincial Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) or the Medical Care Plan (MCP).
- Collecting personal health information from our partners in the health and community services sector, in accordance with our mandate to deliver health care programs and services for the province. For example, the department might collect your personal health information from Regional Health Authorities for billing purposes related to services you might have received.
The department might also collect your personal health information in order to manage and evaluate the province’s health care system in order to ensure that you receive timely, quality care.
We will not collect more information than is reasonably necessary to meet the purpose of the collection and the department will not collect identifiable personal health information if other information will serve the purpose.
Use and disclosure of your information
The department uses and discloses personal health information to:
Process and verify claims for payment for publicly-funded health care services (e.g., through MCP)
Determine or verify a person’s eligibility to participate in a publicly-funded health care program or to receive a benefit, product or health care service
Plan, administer and evaluate programs and services funded by the department
Undertake specific activities as permitted or required by law (e.g., to comply with a court order)
Conduct approved research for assessing, evaluating, planning and improving health and safety, in accordance with the requirements of the Personal Health Information Act and the Health Research Ethics Authority Act
Monitor and manage public health risks (e.g., to monitor an outbreak of influenza)
Fulfil other purposes, as permitted or required by law
We will not use or disclose your personal health information without your consent except in limited circumstances where it is authorized to do so by law. The department is committed to protecting your privacy and will critically consider the circumstances of each disclosure before disclosing your personal health information without your consent. The Department of Health and Community Services does not sell personal health information.
Safeguarding your information
The department has implemented physical, administrative and technological safeguards to protect the personal health information in its custody and control against theft, loss and unauthorized access, use or disclosure. Means of protecting your information adopted by the department include:
- Limiting access by staff to only those who have a need to use your information to perform the duties of their employment
- Password-protecting electronic applications and information systems
- Implementing firewalls and encryption where appropriate and necessary
- Requiring the use of locked filing cabinets and secure premises
- Developing procedures related to retaining your information, including minimum and maximum retention periods
- Ensuring that, when your information is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected, it is destroyed, erased or de-identified effectively and securely
Access to and correction of your records
Under the Personal Health Information Act you have the right to request access to any records containing your personal health information. You also have the right to request a correction of your information where you believe a record is inaccurate or incomplete. Depending on the nature of your request, the department may charge a fee to process your request. The department will notify you in advance of any potential fees related to an access or correction request.
If you would like to request access to or correction of a record containing your personal health information in the department’s custody or control, please submit a request in writing to the department’s designated contact person.
Government is obligated to protect your personal information by making reasonable security arrangements against such risks as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure or disposal. Security measures are integrated into the design, implementation and daily operating practices as part of Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting your personal information.
Links to other websites
This website may include links to websites operated by other public and/or private sector organizations. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is not responsible for the privacy practices or content of external websites.
When you visit or browse a website, a small piece of data may be sent from the website and stored on your computer. You can adjust browser settings to deny cookies or to warn you when a web site is about to place a cookie on your hard drive.
Questions or concerns
If you have a question about how the department collects, uses or discloses your personal health information, please contact the department’s designated contact person. You also have the right to contact the Newfoundland and Labrador Information and Privacy Commissioner to discuss a concern you might have about the department’s information handling practices. You can contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner as follows:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
2nd Floor, 34 Pippy Place
P.O. Box 13004, Station A
St. John’s, NL A1B 3V8
Telephone: (709) 729-6309
Fax: (709) 729-6500
Toll Free: 1-877-729-6309