Privacy of Information
Effective date: July 1, 2017
Application: All collection and disclosure of information by WCB.
Policy subject: Privacy and access to information
To establish guidelines for protecting privacy during the access, collection and release of information within the control of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Relevant means having some reasonable connection with, and some value or tendency to prove or disprove a matter of fact significant to the decision. It is the evidence’s tendency to prove or disprove a matter of fact that is related to an issue in dispute in the case. What is relevant will be determined by the writer of the decision, on a case-by-case basis. The relevant documents will directly relate to the evidence used to make the decision as expressed in the decision.
- Collecting information about workers and employers is fundamental to the administration of The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”). The Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) takes seriously the need to protect the confidentiality and security of this information. The WCB is guided by the Act in the collection, use, storage and disclosure of information.
- In addition to the provisions of the Act, the WCB, where applicable, complies with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP), The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) and the provincial government Privacy Framework.
- The WCB is aware that information provided to workers and employers may also be needed by them to discharge their responsibilities related to work injuries, under other statutes which may include those governing occupational health and safety, human rights and labour standards.
- Section 2(1)(e)(ii) of FOIPP and Section 4(c) of the FOIPP Regulations prescribe the Chairperson of the WCB as the “head”, for the purposes of FOIPP. Under Section 60 of FOIPP, the head may designate to one or more officers of the WCB any power granted to the head or vested in the head under FOIPP. The head has delegated responsibility for responding to access and privacy matters that arise under FOIPP to the Corporate Solicitor who will act as the WCB’s “Privacy Officer”.
- In compliance with the provincial government’s Privacy Framework, the WCB is required to designate an officer responsible for compliance with the legal framework governing the protection of personal customer information. The WCB has also appointed the Corporate Solicitor as the “Privacy Officer” as prescribed by the provincial government Privacy Framework.
- Decisions will be made in accordance with the Act, policies and the rules of natural justice, which require the decision maker to:
- Act properly, fairly and without bias.
- Provide an opportunity for each party to state their case.
- Inform each party of the case that they must respond to.
- Consider all of the evidence.
- Ensure that the decision is made by those who consider the evidence, and
- Provide the parties with meaningful and timely reasons.
Inquiries – Collection of Information
- Inquiry for the purpose of this policy, is defined as any and all legal means of normal file development, including but not limited to the following: routine inquiries, information gathering, questioning, observing, recording, fact-finding, taking depositions, verification, corroboration, authentication, or hearings, whether undertaken by Operations staff (including claims representatives conducting field investigations), Employer Services or any other person(s) the WCB may authorize to do so from time to time. This definition, however, does not include investigations for potential fraud by Internal Audit.
- Various sections of the Act, notably Sections 21, 22 and 25, authorize the WCB to gather evidence needed to determine all matters or questions arising under the Act, pursuant to Section 20.
- Section 4(4)(h) of HIPA exempts the WCB from its Part II consent requirements, PART IV collection and use requirements, and Part V access requirements.
- The WCB collects information from many sources, including, but not limited to: workers, employers and health care providers. The purpose of such collection is to decide entitlement or assessment or any other matter arising under the Act.
- Information means information collected, recorded, transmitted or stored in the normal course of business, including paper or electronic documents (email, photograph, microfilm, image and video) that may be released to a worker, a worker’s representative, an employer or other third party.
- The following types of information may be collected but would not form part of the claim record:
- Legal opinions.
- Comments or advice concerning specific courses of action recommended by the Corporate Solicitor, Legal Services and/or the Privacy Officer.
- Opinions and recommendations of the Fair Practices Office.
- The working papers or notes taken by the Board Appeal Tribunal members during the course of a hearing or deliberation.
- Internal Audit investigation reports.
- The working papers or notes of a fraud investigator of Internal Audit, or
- Documents related to WCB's safety and security administrative procedures.
- This policy governs collecting, storing, accessing and disclosing information on claims and employer accounts. Other information recorded by the WCB in its operations, which may be thought of as “administrative records”, is not covered here. It may be subject to FOIPP, and any questions should be directed to the Privacy Officer.
Access to and Disclosure of Information
- In addition to the provisions of the Act, when disclosing information, the WCB, where applicable, complies with FOIPP, HIPA and the provincial government Privacy Framework.
- Section 4(4)(h) of HIPA exempts the WCB from its PART IV and PART V collection use, disclosure and access requirements.
- Section 23(3)(k) of FOIPP recognizes the operation of Sections 172, 173 and 174 of the Act.
- Section 29 of FOIPP permits the WCB to enter into mutual information sharing agreements that are advantageous to the WCB, workers, employers and outside agencies without offending the privacy of individual workers or employers under Section 172 of the Act.
- Section 172 of the Act states that it is an offence for any WCB staff to divulge information unless they are:
- Required or permitted to do so pursuant to this Act.
- Authorized to do so by the board, or
- Ordered to do so by a court.
- WCB staff are bound by a signed confidentiality agreement that prohibits them from disclosing any information gathered in the course of their duties, unless expressly authorized to do so.
- Under Section 173 of the Act, the WCB must provide copies of claim documents to workers, dependants, or their representatives.
- Under Section 174 of the Act, the WCB may provide copies of relevant claim documents to employers, or their representatives.
- On occasion, as a result of requesting personal health information to determine entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, the WCB may obtain more personal health information from health care providers than is necessary to determine entitlement to benefits. In these situations, a worker may request, in writing, the removal of medical information that is irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of administering the Act. The WCB reserves the right to determine what information is considered relevant.
- Where under a legal obligation to disclose information (e.g., courts, law enforcement agencies, maintenance enforcement officials, employment insurance officials), the WCB will comply with their written requests for such disclosure. Any questions regarding the disclosure of information should be directed to the Privacy Officer.
- Where under no legal obligation, requests for disclosure to assist the worker in establishing entitlement to other benefits (e.g., Social Services, Canada Pension Plan, private insurers), a signed release from the worker is required. Such a release will only authorize the WCB to respond to specific questions posed by the third party.
- Inquiries from Members of the Legislative Assembly or Members of Parliament are presumed to establish that they are acting as representatives of a worker, dependant or employer, and they may be given an oral response. If copies of claim documents are required, Sections 173 and 174 procedures will apply.
- An employer questioning assessment, classification or experience rating decisions affecting their own account, may be provided with relevant claim information or employer account information.
- Where information that may adversely affect entitlement has been provided by a person, and there is a risk of injury to that person, the identity of the source will not be disclosed unless their permission is obtained.
- In accordance with POL 10/2017, Interjurisdictional Agreement on Workers’ Compensation (IJA), the WCB will respond to information requests from other workers’ compensation jurisdictions to ensure the proper adjudication of IJA claims. The purpose is to facilitate provision of benefits and services to workers and employers.
- The WCB may enter into written agreements with government agencies or organizations for the exchange of information. This may include Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services, Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety (LRWS), Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Office of the Workers’ Advocate, Ombudsman Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), or Safety Associations formed pursuant to POL 06/2020, Safety Associations.
- Where no ongoing agreement exists, information about injuries or employers may only be provided as bulk data, sufficiently aggregate so that an individual customer cannot be identified. For such one-time requests, the person or agency must agree, in writing, to appropriate conditions.
- The WCB will respond to general media inquiries from a policy perspective. The WCB will respond to media inquiries specific to a claim or employer account only with written approval from that worker or employer.
- Care must be taken to ensure that claim or employer account information is provided on the telephone or in person only to the authorized individuals.
- The WCB is committed to improved health and safety in the workplace, and will support initiatives taken by individual employers, and industry-based Safety Associations. The effectiveness of Safety Associations is dependent on comprehensive information concerning claims activity in their industry. The disclosure of such information is supported by Section 172 of the Act and Section 29 of FOIPP. A confidentiality agreement is required with the Board Members and staff of the Safety Association concerned. Information provided as bulk
- data will include industry and individual employer claim activity, without identifying individual injured workers.
- Information similar to that provided to employers will be provided to the Occupational Health and Safety Division of LRWS. This is supported by Section 140 of the Act and Section 29 of FOIPP. A confidentiality agreement with the Ministry is required.
- The WCB is subject to the provisions of Sections 7, 9, 10 and 11 of The Archives Act (AA) regarding storage, retention, archiving and destruction of information, and must work with the Saskatchewan Archives Board to establish processes and procedures for meeting these requirements.
- According to AA, the WCB is responsible and accountable for the personal information under its control until transfer to the Archives Board or ordered to be destroyed in accordance with AA.
- Sections 16 and 17 of HIPA require the WCB to establish policies and procedures related to the protection, retention and destruction of personal health information.
- Section 18 of HIPA requires the WCB to enter into agreements with information management service providers (as defined in HIPA) to whom it provides personal health information for storage and prescribes the terms that must be included in such agreements.
- The WCB recognizes that to maintain security and confidentiality, a standardized process must be implemented for the storage, archiving and destruction of all WCB records. Given the volume of information, documents and records maintained by the WCB in various formats, there is an increasing urgency to implement a consistent records management system to secure, store, archive, and destroy information.
- All WCB records, administrative and operational, created by WCB staff in the course of their duties will be retained for as long as they are required to meet the operational, legal and administrative requirements of the WCB and the retention and disposal provisions of HIPA and AA.
- The Privacy Officer will be the primary contact with the Saskatchewan Archives Board, and together with the Records Manager for each business unit will ensure the correct classification and appropriate disposition of all WCB records.
Access and Privacy Complaints
- Any person may challenge WCB compliance with its privacy policies and procedures or about its information practices; including accuracy of information collected, recorded, stored or disclosed, or the applicability in particular cases of FOIPP or HIPA. Any such complaints will be addressed by the Privacy Officer.
- A complainant may appeal a decision of the Privacy Officer to the Board Appeal Tribunal.
- The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) may receive complaints under FOIPP or HIPA. Any information received from the OIPC office about such complaints should immediately be sent to the Privacy Officer.
Privacy – Audio and Video
- Incoming and outgoing telephone calls may be recorded for security and quality purposes.
- WCB operates and maintains a surveillance system on WCB premises to ensure the safety and security of WCB employees, customers and visitors.
20, 21, 22, 25, 48, 140, 172, 173, 174;
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; The Health Information Protection Act;
The Archives Act.
POL 15/2013 Privacy of Information