CMHA National recently released a position statement on the “Right to Privacy related to Mental Health Information contained within Police Records.” This position statement comes in the wake of the announcement that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Ontario will be drafting new legislation on what police services can and cannot disclose. The BC Information and Privacy Commissioner has also issued an order stating that information related to an individual’s mental health should not be included in police information checks.
The position calls for enhancing the protection of mental health information that is held in police databases.
The position calls for enhancing the protection of mental health information that is held in police databases. It was created in collaboration with the CMHA Public Policy Working Group, with input from a range of stakeholders including CMHA Ontario and BC Divisions, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society and various privacy and information commissioners across the country.
The position statement outlines five key messages including:
- CMHA is concerned with the disclosure of mental health information to law enforcement officials and third parties
- Everyone has a right to privacy when seeking mental health and addictions treatment in a confidential setting, just like with any other health issue
- CMHA believes that all police forces must follow a single, common standard for the collection, use, disclosure and retention of non-criminal, non-conviction and personal health information contained in police records and databases, including the Canadian Police Information Centre database
- Mental health information contained within police databases not connected with a criminal conviction should not be disclosed by police and used by third parties
- Privacy Commissioners and/or Auditors General should conduct regular reviews of the disclosure of non-criminal, non-conviction and personal health information
To read the full position statement and background information on this issue, visit the CMHA National website.