Health Privacy in Canada: E-government's Effect on Confidential Health Information
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In Canada, confidentiality of health information is assumed by patients and citizens alike who routinely provide health information for everything from employment forms to doctor’s appointments. This rightful assumption is entrenched by privacy legislation, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and doctor-patient confidentiality derived from the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath. Although professional rules and legislation govern the use and protection of health information, this has not always been the case in practice. Health privacy prior to the use of e-government was a concern, as will be illustrated by an examination of Justice Krever’s inquiry into the confidentiality of health information. These privacy concerns such as lack of proper security, and poor employee training, have intensified in the present with the induction and prominent use of e-government to provide goods and services. Likewise, as electronic health records are becoming popularized, the existence and abundance of centralized information could lead to potential abuse. An examination of privacy prior and during e-government was undertaken. Privacy in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec were examined to determine how e-government has had an impact on health privacy in application to electronic health records. Privacy legislation was also examined in each province, which determined the levels of privacy afforded to citizens in each respective province.