Follow Us

Tweet Us! @MBOmbudsmanFind us on Facebook!Watch us on YouTube!


Manitoba Ombudsman lays three charges under the Personal Health Information Act

Return to listing

Oct 20, 2021

An investigation by Manitoba Ombudsman has resulted in three charges being laid against an employee of a trustee under the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA).

Our office received a report of a privacy breach from a trustee under PHIA about one of its employees who had viewed personal health information of another individual. Additionally, we received a complaint from the individual alleging that his privacy had been breached by the employee who had access to personal health information through her job. The employee, a privacy officer in a health-care facility, allegedly used that access to view and disclose information for purposes unrelated to her work.

Upon completing the investigation, the ombudsman laid the charges against the employee for deliberately accessing and disclosing another person’s health information without authority under PHIA. The individual to whom the personal health information relates provided consent for the ombudsman to disclose his information to Manitoba Prosecution Service for the purpose of consultation about the charges.

“Personal health information is considered by many to be the most sensitive type of information about individuals. Manitobans trust that employees of health-care facilities will respect their privacy and only use their personal health information as authorized under the law,” said Ombudsman Jill Perron. “Abusing that trust by intentionally violating someone’s privacy is wrong and has serious consequences.”

PHIA was amended on December 5, 2013, to make it an offence for an employee to wilfully use, gain access to, or attempt to gain access to another person’s personal health information, contrary to the act. This amendment was requested by our office as a result of an investigation of a previous “snooping” incident. This is the second time the ombudsman has laid charges under this provision in PHIA.

The maximum penalty for each offence under PHIA is $50,000.

A court date for this matter has not yet been set. No further details about the case will be released by Manitoba Ombudsman until court proceedings conclude.

Under PHIA, the ombudsman investigates complaints from individuals who believe the privacy of their personal health information has been violated. The ombudsman also investigates privacy breaches that come to the attention of the office.