Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province of of Nova Scotia (Canada)

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Country or territory: Province of Nova Scotia, Canada
Organisation: Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia
Chair: Catherine Tully, Information and Privacy Commissioner
Location/address: 509-5670 Spring Garden Road
Halifax
Nova Scotia
Primary contact: Tel: (902) 424-4684
Email: oipcns@novascotia.ca
Number of staff: 6
Year established: 1994
Founding Act or Law: Freedom of Information Act, 1977
Online profile (website, social media, etc.): Website: foipop.ns.ca
Twitter: @NSInfoPrivacy
General description of activities: The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia is the impartial oversight agency responsible for monitoring and overseeing compliance with four statutes:

  • The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which applies to more than 335 public bodies including government departments, agencies, boards and commissions;
  • the Privacy Review Officer Act which applies to the same 335 public bodies;
  • the Municipal Government Act, Part XX which applies to more than 65 municipal bodies including municipalities, police forces and library boards; and
  • the Personal Health Information Act which applies to more than 26,000 health custodians and agents in Nova Scotia.
General description of enforcement actions (powers of investigation, inspection and/or sanction): In discharging our mandate we investigate and mediate access appeals and complaints, conduct formal hearings, issue recommendation reports, conduct privacy investigations, comment on the privacy implications of new programs, policies and technologies and conduct public education.
Number of decisions, opinions, recommendations in previous year: Public sector access and privacy reviews closed – 2015-16

Formal review report and recommendations: 13

Access and correction requests resolved informally: 143

Privacy complaints resolved informally: 12
Access and privacy files initiated by public bodies: 112

Inquiries: 1287

Outreach and education: 102

Total access and privacy matters, 2015-16: 1669

Health sector access and privacy matters closed 2015-16

Access and correction requests resolved informally: 10

Privacy complaints resolved informally: 2
Access and privacy files initiated by health custodians: 685

Inquiries: 105

Outreach and education: 23

Total health sector matters, 2015-16: 825

Significant decisions, opinions or recommendations:
  • Investigation report IR16-01 – Staff in the Office of the Premier disclosed personal health information to the media. The OIPC NS investigated the Department’s privacy obligations, the privacy breach response of the Department and made recommendations for improvement.
  • Review report FI-10-95 – A former foster child sought access to information held by the Department of Community Services that would detail her family history. The OIPC NS analysed the access to information exemption protecting against an “unreasonable invasion of privacy” and recommended additional disclosure.
  • Review report FI-09-100 – An applicant sought access to details of a funding agreement between a government agency and a private business. This is the OIPC NS leading case interpreting the access to information exemption protecting against disclosure of confidential business information.
  • Review report FI-11-76 – An applicant believed he had not received a complete disclosure decision, and insisted more records must exist. This case provides guidance on the evidence required to demonstrate whether an adequate search for records has been made.