Investigation Concludes Alberta Learning Was Authorized to Collect Information About a Student

October 4, 2001

Frank Work, Q.C., Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner, publicly released an investigation report into a complaint that Alberta Learning improperly collected medical information.

The Complainant had asked the Minister of Alberta Learning to review a matter regarding special education funding and services for the Complainant’s child (“the Student”). The Minister appointed a Ministerial Review Committee (“the Committee”) to conduct this review and to make recommendations to the Minister. During the review process, the Committee interviewed a physician regarding the Student.

The Complainant questioned the Committee’s authority to collect medical information about the Student. The Complainant said the Student is not a minor and that the Student had specifically refused to grant permission to the Committee to contact the Student’s physicians or to obtain access to further medical information about the Student. The Complainant also said the Committee compelled the physician to disclose information about the Student and challenged the Committee’s authority to do so.

The investigation found that the collection complied with the collection provisions set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“the FOIP Act”).

Section 8(2) of the Government Organization Act authorizes the Minister to collect information on “any matter under his administration”. Section 105(1) of the School Act specifically grants the Minister the authority to conduct a review and the power to control the review process. Section 237 of the School Act allows the Minister to delegate his review powers to a review committee, including the power to collect information for the purposes of the review.