Commissioner Frank Work ordered an investigation into complaints that the Alberta Cervical Cancer Screening Program (ACCSP) collects, uses and discloses health information in contravention of the Health Information Act. The ACCSP is a program operated by the Alberta Cancer Board (ACB).
The complainants expressed concern that information related to a woman’s Papanicolaou (Pap test) is disclosed without consent to the ACCSP, and that there is no ability for a woman to opt-out of the program.
The investigation found that the ACB:
- Has authority to collect, use and disclose health information without consent, to operate the ACCSP
- Completed a Privacy Impact Assessment, and took reasonable steps to maintain safeguards to protect the privacy, confidentiality and security of health information within the ACCSP
- Allowed women to opt-out of receiving further contact from the ACCSP. However, this step was not sufficient to meet the duty to consider an individual’s expressed wish about how much health information to disclose
During the course of the investigation, the ACB implemented a change to the program, offering women the ability to opt-out of the ACCSP. In doing so, the ACB now complies with the requirements of the Health Information Act.
The report makes no recommendations, as the ACB has already taken steps required to comply with the Act.