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Editorial by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia

Citizen Surveillance, Street Checks and the Right to Privacy


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 19-02

​In Nova Scotia there is a growing public concern about the quality of care our elderly are receiving in long-term care facilities.  This is a case in point.  The applicant's two elderly parents were living in a Halifax nursing home in 2015.  The applicant began raising concerns about the quality of care they were receiving.  Eventually she filed four complaints under the Protection for Persons in Care Act and then sought access to the investigator's notes in relation to her complaints.  While the Department of Health and Wellness disclosed most of the information in the records, it withheld a small portion including the identity of individuals in the records.  The Commissioner determines that information supplied by witnesses to an investigation does not qualify as "advice or recommendations".  Witness statements are evidence forming the factual background to the investigation.  As such, the information cannot be withheld under the policy advice exemption.  With respect to the identity of witnesses, the Commissioner agrees that disclosing this information would result in an unreasonable invasion of the witnesses' personal privacy.  Read more...


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 19-01

​An applicant sought information related to the sale of the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury.  The Department of Intergovernmental Affairs withheld most of the information, claiming several exemptions under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) including solicitor-client privilege.  The Commissioner finds that solicitor-client privilege applies to communications between legal counsel and the Government of Nova Scotia.  She further finds that communications between the Department and several outside entities were also properly withheld because these parties shared a common interest with the Government of Nova Scotia.  The Department also applied three other exemptions to various portions of the records.  The Commissioner finds that none of these remaining exemptions apply.  The Commissioner recommends that a small portion of the withheld records be disclosed to the applicant.  Read more...


Time to Celebrate! ​Did you know that 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the OIPC providing impartial oversight of our access and privacy laws?  Over the last 25 years, our office has been committed to ensuring that you are able to exercise your right to access government information and that your right to privacy is protected.  These rights are recognized throughout the world as being essential to democracy!  Throughout the year we will be celebrating our silver anniversary by:

  • ​Sharing stories of Nova Scotians who have experienced firsthand how freedom of information laws contribute to a more democratic society.
  • Publishing duty to assist guidelines for public bodies and municipalities on topics such as communication with applicants, searching for records, calculating and waiving fees, writing decisions and more!  
  • ​Celebrating with all Nova Scotians this summer at an awesome public event!  More details to come.

Stay tuned for these exciting updates and more by checking out our          25th Anniversary page or signing up to our mailing list.  We can't wait to celebrate with you all!


Data Mining the Deceased:  Film & Discussion

On February 3, 2019, in partnership with the Halifax Public Libraries and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, we will be screening the documentary Data Mining the Deceased.  Genealogy is one of the largest data mining operations, driven by big religion, big business and big technology.  This documentary takes a wry and probing look at individual industry stakes in the phenomenon of family history.  Join us at the Halifax Central Library at 2:00 p.m. for the free film screening followed by a discussion of current issues with the film's Director, Julia Creet; Françoise Baylis, University Research Professor, Dalhousie; and Darryl Leroux, Sociologist of Indigenous DNA Claims, Saint Mary's University.  Read more...


Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Upholds Commissioner's Decision

In a decision released January 11, 2019, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal determined that a decision by the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding the scope of her jurisdiction was reasonable.  The appeal centered around whether or not the Commissioner has jurisdiction to hear an appeal where the applicant seeks answers to questions rather than access to records.  The Commissioner determined that she does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal where there is no request for access to records at issue.

The Court of Appeal states, "...the Commissioner's interpretation of the applicable provisions of the MGA was reasonable.  Indeed, I am satisfied it was the only reasonable interpretation."  A copy of the Court of Appeal decision is available here.  A copy of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision which also upheld the Commissioner's decision is available here.  


News Release

For Immediate Release

January 15, 2019

Privacy Commissioner's investigation determines that a serious failure of due diligence led to Freedom of Information Access website privacy breaches

HALIFAX - Information and Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully issued her investigation report today into a series of privacy breaches that plagued the Freedom of Information Access (FOIA) website in the spring of 2018.  The Commissioner determines that the immediate cause of the privacy breaches was a design flaw in the FOIA website. The flaw was created by a well-known and foreseeable vulnerability that was not detected by the Department of Internal Services (Department) prior to launching the FOIA website.  Ultimately, the privacy breaches were preventable and were caused by a serious failure of due diligence in the deployment of a new technology tool.  Read more...

Investigation Report IR19-01

Letter to Premier and Ministers of Justice & Municipal Affairs - Modernization of Acts

Questions Nova Scotians May Want to Ask


Response to Review Report 18-05

Review Report 18-05 indicated we would publish the Department's response to the recommendations made by the Commissioner.  The response is available here.

Letter from Department of Health and Wellness


Canada's Access to Information and Privacy Guardians Call for Privacy Regulation and Oversight of Political Parties

Regina, SK, September 17, 2018​ - In a joint resolution, Canada's Information and Privacy Ombudspersons and Commissioners have called on governments to pass legislation requiring political parties to comply with globally recognized privacy principles, to provide Canadians with access to the personal information they hold about them, and to provide for independent oversight to verify and enforce privacy compliance.                   Read more... / Communiqué

Joint Resolution: Securing Trust and Privacy in Canada's Electoral Process / Assurer la confiance et la confidentialité dans le processus électoral du Canada


Responses to Investigation Reports IR18-01 and IR18-02

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia has received responses to the recommendations made in investigation reports IR18-01 and IR18-02 from the Department of Health and Wellness and Sobeys National Pharmacy Group.  A summary of those responses and copies of the letters received are provided below.

OIPC Summary of Responses to IR18-01 and IR18-02 Recommendations

DHW Response to IR18-01 updated October 31, 2018

Letter from Department of Health and Wellness

Letter from Sobeys National Pharmacy Group


New/Updated Publications Now Available

Reporting Breaches Guide - s. 70 of Personal Health Information Act

Breach Notification Form to Report Under s. 70 of Personal Health Information Act

Duty to Assist #3 - Third Party Notice 

Duty to Assist #2 - Conducting an Adequate Search

Duty to Assist #1 - Communication with Applicants

Personal Health Information Act - Privacy Impact Assessment Template

Guide to OIPC NS Processes

Best Password Practices / Meilleures pratiques pour le mots de passe

Big Data Guidelines for Nova Scotia

A Citizen's Guide to Big Data and Your Privacy Rights in Nova Scotia