Frequently Asked Questions - Privacy

 

The Ministry of Health only permits the use of data within the Ontario Health Data Platform for researching, analyzing, investigating, preventing, responding to, or alleviating COVID-19 or its effects; or evaluating or monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the management of, the allocation of resources to or planning for all or part of the health system for answering important questions about the pandemic. Direct personal identifiers, including names and street addresses are removed, and health card numbers are replaced with a confidential unique token number. Indirect identifiers such as date of birth are pseudonymized such that it is changed to year of birth only promptly after data are received. The Ministry of Health requires that all researchers undergo appropriate screening and sign research and privacy agreements, confirming their obligations with respect to the data and the consequences of not following Ontario Health Data Platform policies and procedures. The Ministry of Health prohibits unauthorized re-identification of individuals. Please refer to the About Ontario Health Data Platform page.

No. The Ministry of Health will not use your personal health information for commercial purposes and will not disclose your personal health information to any party for commercial purposes. The use of the personal health information within the Ontario Health Data Platform is strictly regulated. Specific information about how the information is used can be found on the About Ontario Health Data Platform page.

The personal health information in the Ontario Health Data Platform will be retained only for as long as is necessary to fulfill the stated purposes for which it was collected. Thereafter, including at the conclusion of the temporary regulation, the personal health information will be deidentified or destroyed in accordance with the requirements under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.

Yes. The Ministry of Health discloses personal health information for research in accordance with section 44 of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 and subject to the provisions of section 16 of O. Reg. 329/04. The Ministry of Health requires that all data about individuals can only be accessed within the secure computing environment of the Ontario Health Data Platform. The only data that can be offloaded from a researcher workspace are aggregate results (i.e. numbers that summarize information about multiple individuals). Researchers must adhere to the compliance requirements set out in section 44(6) of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.

The Ministry of Health collects datasets through legal mechanisms set out in Ontario's Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. A temporary regulation became effective July 30, 2020 for two years which permits the collection of personal health information without patient consent from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Ontario Health under strictly regulated terms and conditions.

No. There is no mechanism for individual patients to opt out of the Ontario Health Data Platform. The personal health information collected for the purposes of the Ontario Health Data Platform is collected from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Ontario Health who are designated as Prescribed Entities under the regulations to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. The completeness of datasets on each patient is essential to the extent it serves the public good for researching, analyzing, investigating, preventing, responding to, or alleviating COVID-19 or its effects; or evaluating or monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the management of, the allocation of resources to or planning for all or part of the health system. All data collected is in accordance with the temporary regulation (section 18(11) of O. Regulation 329/04) under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.

The Ministry of Health can provide a summary of what kind of data is maintained in the Ontario Health Data Platform. To do so, you may contact the Ontario Health Data Platform Privacy Officer by email at privacy@ohdp.ca or by mail to 1 Richmond St. West, Suite 401, Toronto, Ontario M5H 3W4.

If you feel that the Ministry of Health or one of its agents have not been complying with the Privacy Policy for the Ontario Health Data Platform or with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, you can contact the Ontario Health Data Platform Privacy Officer at privacy@ohdp.ca.