Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston says there has been a clear failure to provide oversight to protect Nova Scotians’ personal health information and calls for swift action from the McNeil Liberals.
According to the 2017-2018 Annual Report for the Office of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner, there is a “a dangerous and insidious culture of entitlement to view health records”.
“Every breach, every report that suggests failure to protect private information damages the already crumbling trust that Nova Scotians have in their government,” says Houston.
The report notes the prevalent use of electronic health records and data bases has made personal health information even more vulnerable for abuse. It stated that of the high-profile incidents of staff abusing private health information, one incident resulted in taxpayers paying out more than one million dollars in a class-action lawsuit.
Houston says, under the circumstances, it is deeply troubling to think of what could happen when the one patient, one record is eventually installed.
“The Liberal government has to get things right before they ask us to trust them with even more personal information in a massive one patient, one record system.” Houston says.
During the fall sitting of the Legislature, the Official Opposition introduced three bills to strengthen protection and privacy, including making the FOIPOP Commissioner an independent officer of the Legislature:
- FOIPOP Commissioner Independence Act;
- Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (amended);
- Conflict of Interest Act (amended) and Lobbyists’ Registration Act (amended).
Houston says the Liberal government has been offered multiple suggestions and solutions to address these gaps in privacy and urges quick action.
“This isn’t about any one person’s damaged pride, this is a serious culture of sloppiness that must be addressed,” says Houston. “That will take real leadership from the McNeil Liberals. We didn’t see that leadership on the well-publicized FOIPOP breach earlier this year, but I hope we will see it following this report.”