Investigation Concludes that the Workers’ Compensation Board Breached an Injured Worker’s Privacy

August 10, 2000

Information and Privacy Commissioner Bob Clark today released Investigation Report 1999-IR-008. The report concludes an investigation conducted under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “FOIP Act”).

The investigation found that WCB breached the Complainant’s privacy when it disclosed information obtained from an informant to the Complainant’s former employer.

The Informant had alleged that the Complainant was involved with various physical activities that were inconsistent with the disability benefits awarded to the Complainant by WCB. Although WCB had determined that the Informant’s allegations were not relevant and did not impact on the benefits granted to the Complainant, a WCB investigator disclosed the Informant’s allegations to the Complainant’s former employer.

WCB stated the disclosure “does not appear to be a common occurrence” but claimed it is authorized to disclose this information under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The investigation found that the WCB Act grants WCB broad powers. However, WCB’s jurisdiction and powers are confined to matters under the WCB Act and its regulations.

As WCB had already determined that the Informant’s allegations had no impact on the benefits granted to the Complainant, the information was not relevant to the administration of the WCB Act or its regulations. Therefore, the matter is outside WCB’s jurisdiction and the WCB investigator had no authority to proceed further on this matter.

The investigation acknowledges that there may be circumstances where WCB may disclose personal information to an employer. However, given the circumstances for this particular case, the investigation finds that the disclosure is not in accordance with the disclosure provisions set out under the FOIP Act.

The investigation recommends that WCB review its current disclosure policy to clarify this matter to its employees.