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How do I make a complaint to the ombudsman?

PHIA requires that a complaint be made in writing [section 39(3)]. This requirement may be met by writing a letter to the ombudsman describing the nature of the complaint. Any additional information or relevant correspondence may be attached to the complaint.


What will happen when I make a complaint to the ombudsman?

Upon receiving a complaint under PHIA, the ombudsman makes initial contact with the complainant and with the trustee involved. During an investigation, the ombudsman reviews the complaint in relation to the provisions of PHIA, considers the relevance of other legislation, examines any records relating to the complaint and speaks with employees of the trustee.

If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the ombudsman may issue recommendations to the trustee. The ombudsman will provide a report to the complainant and the trustee containing findings about the complaint and any recommendations the ombudsman considers appropriate respecting the complaint.

What happens if the ombudsman makes recommendations?

If the report contains recommendations, the trustee must send the ombudsman a written response within 14 days after receiving the report. The response must indicate whether the recommendations have been accepted and describe any action taken or proposed to implement them, or, the reasons why the trustee refuses to take actions to implement them.


What happens if the trustee doesn't follow the recommendations?

The ombudsman may request that the information and privacy adjudicator conduct a review into the matter if the recommendations are not followed. The adjudicator is an independent officer of the Manitoba legislature, separate from the ombudsman's office and the public body.

A request for a review can only be made by the ombudsman, and not by the trustee or complainant. Upon completing a review, the adjudicator makes an order, a copy of which is provided to the complainant, the trustee and the ombudsman.

What if I'm not satisfied by the ombudsman's findings?

You may appeal to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench if a trustee has refused to permit you to examine or receive a copy of your personal health information following a request submitted as described above. However, you can only appeal to the court after making a complaint to the ombudsman and the ombudsman has reported on the complaint. In certain circumstances the ombudsman also may decide to appeal a decision concerning a refusal of access to a record. There is no appeal to the court respecting a trustee's collection, use or disclosure of personal information under PHIA.


What else does the ombudsman do with respect to PHIA?

The ombudsman has a variety of other general powers and duties under PHIA. These include promoting public awareness of the act; investigating, auditing, and monitoring compliance with the act; commenting on the access or privacy implications of proposed legislation or programs of trustees; and conducting research on matters relating to access or privacy. A full list of general powers and duties can be found in section 28 of PHIA.