Public Health Notice of Personal Health Information Practices

Niagara Region Public Health and the Medical Officer of Health for Niagara recognize that protecting your personal health information is an essential part of our commitment to quality public health services, programs, and care.

Niagara Region Public Health adheres to strict rules about how we collect, store, use and share personal health information. These rules can be found in the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.

We believe our clients should know what personal health information we collect, how we use it, to whom we disclose it and how we protect it.

What information do we collect from you?

We collect personal health information that may include any details about you, your health and/or your health history. This could include:

  • Your name, address or date of birth, and in limited circumstances, your Ontario health card number, if it is required to provide service
  • Facts about your health and your health care history including services you have received to date and any pertinent hospital records

Having access to up-to-date personal health information allows Niagara Region Public Health to provide you with public health services to meet your needs.

Can you refuse to provide information?

Yes. The choice to share personal health information is yours. However, your decision to withhold information may limit our ability to meet your needs.

How do we collect your personal health information?

We collect personal health information directly from you, or from the person who is legally acting on your behalf.

If you were referred to a Niagara Region Public Health service, we may also collect information given to us from one of your other health care providers, such as your family doctor, nurse practitioner, specialist or other public health care provider.

How do we store the information we collect from you?

When we collect your personal health information, we do so through face-to-face meetings, the phone, written materials and with electronic documents. Niagara Region Public Health uses an electronic health record program, provincial records reporting systems, a hospital health records system and office based files.

It is the goal of both the federal and provincial governments to provide Canadians with better health care through electronic health records. This will improve safety, reduce wait times, avoid duplicate testing and provide you with timely access to your personal health information.

If a lab test is ordered as part of your services with Niagara Region Public Health, your information and lab results may be entered into a laboratory database. This information may be available to other health care provides who are providing you with health care services.

How will we use the information we collect from you?

When we collect personal health information about you, we do so to promote and protect your health and to prevent disease. We specifically use your personal health information to provide service, however, it might also be used to:

  • Plan, deliver and evaluate our Public Health services
  • Notify you of an appointment or change to an appointment
  • Ensure your safety and the safety of the community
  • Compile statistics
  • Make administrative decisions to plan for future programming

How can you access, or make a correction to your own personal health information?

At any time, you can ask to see your personal health information we have on record. If you believe the information we have is incorrect or incomplete, you can request to make a correction to that information. Contact Niagara Region Public Health by calling 905-688-3762 or 1-800-263-7248.

If you would like to obtain a complete copy of your health record, contact our privacy office:

Information and Privacy Advisor
Office of the Regional Clerk
1815 Sir Isaac Brock Way
P.O. Box 1042, Thorold, Ontario L2V 4T7
Email Freedom of Information / Privacy Coordinator

How do we protect your personal health information?

Whether your records are paper or electronic, we are responsible for keeping your personal health information private and confidential. We take steps to protect your personal health information from theft, loss and unauthorized access, copying, modification, use, disclosure and disposal.

Part of keeping your information secure is using safe storage. Paper records are kept in locked files or secured areas and are only accessible to your health care providers. All electronic records require a password and can only be accessed by people who are providing you with health care.

We conduct audits and complete investigations to monitor and manage your privacy.

Will we ever disclose your information to anyone else?

Niagara Region Public Health will never share your personal health information without your expressed consent or the expressed consent of your designated substitute decision maker.

Niagara Region Public Health programs may offer referrals to other health care providers as part of their service to you. With your consent, Niagara Region Public Health will share any relevant personal health information with those other providers.

However, please be aware that Niagara Region Public Health may be required to enter your information into a provincial database or otherwise disclose your information to meet the legal requirements related to the function of the Medical Officer of Health and Board of Health pursuant to the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Additionally, Niagara Region Public Health has a legal and professional responsibility to notify the proper authorities when:

  • There is suspicion of abuse or risk of abuse to a child under 16
  • Your health records are required by court order
  • Certain health matters could affect the health or safety of the public, as outlined in the Health Protection and Promotion Act or other legislation

What are your consent choices as a client?

With your consent, a family member, significant other or legal representative can access your personal health information. You can be specific about what information you would like us to share.

At any time, you have the right to change the conditions of your consent, or cancel a previous consent.

Do you have questions about Niagara Region's privacy policy or, would you like to make a complaint?

We're committed to addressing your concerns about the way your personal health information is collected, used, or shared. If you have questions about this privacy statement, our privacy policies or our procedures, contact our Information and Privacy Advisor at 1-905-980-6000 ext. 3779.

You can also make a complaint directly with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The commissioner can be reached at:

Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8
1-800-387-0073 or 416-326-3333
Fax: 416-325-9195

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