E-Health Act

Overview

The E-Health (Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act (SBC 2008, c. 38) protects public and private sector employees who have disclosed or will disclose a contravention of the Act to an administrator, the Minister of Health or the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Any reprisal is subject to a fine under the Act.

What kind of disclosure is protected?

The Act protects any person who, while acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has disclosed information about a contravention, or possible contravention, of the Act s.22(a)(i) to an administrator, the Minister of Health or the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

Under the Act, a contravention s.22(a)(ii) may include the collection, use or disclosure of personal health information or information related to a health service provider in a manner that contravenes the terms or conditions of a designation order.

Who is eligible for protection?

The Act protects public or private sector employees, including a volunteer or a person retained under a contract to perform services in relation to a health body, who have disclosed information to an administrator, the Minister of Health or the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding a contravention to this Act s.1.

Under the Act, an administrator s.1 means:

  • in the case of a health information bank in the custody or under the control of the ministry of the minister, or a ministry database, the chief data steward, and
  • in the case of a health information bank in the custody or under the control of a health care body other than the ministry of the minister, a person authorized to administer the health information bank

How are whistleblowers protected?

The Act prohibits any person from taking any kind of reprisal against an employee who has made a disclosure regarding a contravention of this Act 22(a)(i)-(ii), have followed the law as prescribed by the Act s.22(b), or have refused to do anything in contravention of the Act s.22(c)

Under the Act, a reprisal s.22 includes disciplinary measures, demotion, suspension, termination of employment or any measures that adversely affect the employment or working conditions of the employee. 

If an employee has made a protected disclosure, any person who takes any kind of reprisal against them is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to $200 000 s.24(1)(d).

How should disclosures be made?

Be careful! Despite presenting some challenges for follow ups, one of the best protections for whistleblowers is their anonymity. Be cautious when providing any information through electronic means, especially emails! Read the security tips section.

A public or private sector employee may make a disclosure of wrongdoing by contacting an Administrator, the Minister of Health, or the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

In order to file a complaint to a public body the form can be found here, in order to file a complaint to a private organization the form is here. The forms can be emailed to info@oipc.bc.ca, faxed to (250) 387-1696, or mailed to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner:

P.O. Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9A4

Not all claims will be investigated. If an employee’s complaint is declined,  they will receive a letter explaining why it is not being investigated. If the complaint is accepted, they will receive a notification letter to this effect.

More information on the process of making a disclosure can be found here: https://www.oipc.bc.ca/for-the-public/how-do-i-make-a-complaint/.