I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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A vote for even greater transparency in health care

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario wrote a recent blog post “Privacy is not a Barrier to Releasing Non-Identifying Statistics“.

In particular, the IPC noted an example that the public wants to know how serious the flu-threat is in their community, a risk often measured by the number of local flu-related deaths.  Public members have contacted the IPC to say they are having trouble getting that kind of information.

There can be tension between privacy rights of individuals and the public interest. But in this case, there is an answer. Privacy laws do not limit non-identifying statistical reporting. It is possible for health authorities to release such data without violating individual rights or legal responsibilities to protect personal health information.

There’s a good reason to capture such data and make it public.  Real local data helps us understand public health risks and realities. Reliable and timely data can be hard to come by. Proactive sharing of helpful non-identifying statistics improves the public trust in our health care system and can equip us all to take more control over our health.

As an aside, health care organizations subject to freedom of information or municipal freedom of information legislation are required to make public general records (non-identifying statistical records for example) that already exist, subject to exceptions and exemptions. Those organizations are not, however, required by law to create new records that do not already exist.  As explained above, there may be good reasons to create new records in order fulfill an ethical responsibility to communicate in a way the public can understand, especially if requested to do so.


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Health Privacy Officer training
September 22, 2020

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organizations - now totally online.

This course focuses on how to become a more confident privacy officer and gives you the tools to document your privacy program. Full details and registration here...

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our September program is on privacy litigation and the October program will address harassment issues and scenarios.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
the first Wednesday of every month (Off for the Summer - next up: September 2 and October 7)

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Free Part X CYFSA privacy webinar - ask me anything!
the second Wednesday of every month (next up: July 8 and August 12)

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Team Privacy Training Events
July 8, 23, 28 August 4, October 7, 8

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies and Children’s Aid

Kate trains health professionals from many more health care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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