Yukon’s Health Information Legislation

yukon_wordmarkCanada’s Yukon Territory joins other domestic jurisdictions in moving to implement personal health information legislation. The Health Information Privacy and Management Act, introduced in November, is now in second reading. Leaving aside the trend to including EHR governance in personal health information statutes, there are some intriguing aspects to the bill not found in other statutes of a similar nature.

For example, s. 61 authorizes applications for court orders to force the disclosure of personal health information of one individual for diagnostic purposes associated with another individual. Genetic information immediately came to mind when I read that provision. I don’t know all the reasons behind such a public policy measure but forcing disclosure, even after legal process, has a disturbing aspect to it in the context of civil liberties. It’s one thing to get an order for a blood sample in a DUI investigation but the implications of such a provision as s. 61 strike me as being an order of magnitude greater in significance.

Section 62 allows for disclosure without consent for the purposes of the defined concept of “follow up” care. This could probably be viewed as an improvement in that, in other jurisdictions, one may be obliged to argue that those needing access to information for follow up care are part of the “circle of care”.   Section 63 permits contact information to be disclosed by the Department of Health to the Department of Education for “school enrolment planning” purposes. I suppose we should commend the Education folks for promptly getting fresh data into their 5 year planning projections.

One may expect and does find a lot of provisions concerning collection, use, disclosure and the exceptions to those rules that are similar to those found in other Canadian statutes, together with some elaboration on particular aspects (e.g. breach notification). The information security provisions strike me as more detailed than that found in existing statutes.

When the bill comes into force remains to be seen. It still has to be enacted and there will likely be a transition period to allow custodians to get ready. I’m not sure if this bill represents the next generation of health information legislation and I’m not sure if I’d want some aspects to become the “norm” but it is worth further study by those interested in public policy and management. What is clear is that this bill is further evidence that “stovepipes” between government departments are disappearing.

Leave a Reply