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Statement on Nova Scotia Health's collection of personal health information by email

In January 2022, we were made aware that the Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) and Nova Scotia Health (NSH) had started a practice of encouraging Nova Scotians to email personal health information related to positive COVID-19 tests. This practice raised concerns for our office and for some Nova Scotians. Read more...

Notice of consultation and call for comments - Privacy guidance on facial recognition for police agencies - Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Canada's federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners have jointly developed a draft document about the use of facial recognition technology by policing agencies intended to ensure that any use of facial recognition complies with the law, minimizes privacy risks and respects privacy rights. The federal Privacy Commissioner has also launched a consultation period inviting written feedback from stakeholders on the draft guidance document as well as on the legal and policy framework for police use of facial recognition more generally. Stakeholders can learn more about the federal consultation period and make submissions here: Notice of consultation and call for comments - Privacy guidance on facial recognition for police agencies - Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Nova Scotian stakeholders are encouraged to submit any comment about this subject which will help contribute to this national conversation.

Questions about Nova Scotia's Proof of Full Vaccination Policy

Effective October 4, 2021, Nova Scotia's Proof of Full Vaccination Policy requires documentation of full vaccination to go to or participate in specified non-essential events and activities. This document provides information for Nova Scotians about who to contact with their privacy questions or concerns and the role of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC). Read more...

Amended procedure for access to information reviews - effective January 1, 2021

Effective January 1, 2021, the OIPC is implementing an amended procedure for reviews where information has been withheld pursuant to an exemption under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP), Part XX of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) or the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA). The procedure applies only to reviews where information has been withheld in part or in full under an exemption. It does not apply to time extensions, deemed refusals, fees, transfers, search or privacy complaint reviews.

The new procedure can be found here: Guide to Review Process. All parties should ensure they understand the amended procedure for any new reviews they are a party to, starting on January 1, 2021. Any file from the backlog that is assigned to an investigator starting January 1, 2021 will be processed using this amended procedure. 

The major change in the amended procedure is that representations will be required at the outset of the investigation stage. This is changed from the current practice where representations could be provided during any stage of the process, with the final and most typically used time being upon notification of formal review. There will now only be one opportunity to provide representations at the outset of the process, unless a party is asked for further information from the investigator or the Commissioner at a later stage. Parties should plan to meet their respective burdens during their one opportunity to provide representations. 

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia supports the International Conference of Information Commissioners' (ICIC) public statements concerning public bodies' obligations regarding access to information requests during a global pandemic. Read the full statements below:

April 14, 2020:  Access to information in the context of a global pandemic
May 4, 2020:  The duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential​
September 28, 2020: International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI)

Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner's statement on COVID-19

Nova Scotia's access and privacy laws are designed to protect people's privacy but also to share information where public bodies determine that compelling circumstances exist that affect anyone's health or safety.  Read more...

OIPC implements process change for consultation requests from public bodies, municipalities and health custodians

The OIPC has a significant backlog of review files so we are taking steps to streamline our processes and procedures with the goal of allocating more time for reviews. Effective immediately, all public bodies, municipalities and health custodians will be required to fill out a consultation request form prior to receiving our comments regarding access to information or privacy matters. Please note this form is not required for questions about ongoing requests for review or to report a privacy breach to the OIPC.

Consultation Request Guidelines

Consultation Request Form

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.

OIPC Celebrates 25 Years!

Visit our Anniversary Celebration page for information about the OIPC's 25th anniversay in 2019.

Wrapping Up Right to Know Week 2019

In case you missed Right to Know Week or want to re-live the intrigue, you can watch the engaging panel discussion here: Democracy in Action:  The Future of Your Right to Know.

See how the provincial government's published access to information numbers are trending over time:  NS Access to Information Trends.