Personal Health Information Protection Act
The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), took effect on November 1, 2004. The Act sets out the requirements of how personal health information must be treated by those who have access to it. The legislation applies to all types of health settings, including mental health programs and psychiatric facilities.
In Ontario, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of information by the provincial government and designated agencies. There is also a Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that covers the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by municipal governments and designated agencies.
Health information in Ontario is covered by a number of different statutes. For example, the Mental Health Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of the clinical record in a psychiatric facility. Each of the 24 regulated health professions, including physicians and nurses, has their own set of rules protecting the confidentiality of health information. There are also regulations under the Public Hospitals Act dealing with information in hospitals.
A description of the content of PHIPA can be found at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) website: Compendium: Health Information Protection Act, 2004. For health care providers, the ministry has published An Overview for Health Information Custodians. Other resources for healthcare providers, including a checklist, to ensure that they have met the requirements outlined in the legislation, are available at www.health.gov.on.ca.
Federal Privacy Legislation
Canadians are protected by two federal privacy laws, the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), in addition to provincial privacy legislation which varies from province to province.
For fact sheets on Canada’s two federal laws governing privacy visit The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
e-Laws provides access to official copies of Ontario’s statutes and regulations.
The Office of Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner website offers numerous resources to assist in protecting your privacy and accessing information.
CMHA Ontario’s Community Mental Health and Addictions Privacy Toolkit is a resource developed to support community-based mental health and addiction service providers in meeting the requirements of the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), which came into effect on November 1, 2004.