What is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)?
FIPPA came into force in British Columbia in 1993 to provide a legislative framework for information and privacy rights by governing public bodies’ management of personal and/or business information held in records within their custody or control. FIPPA does three crucial things at the same time:
- Makes the health authority more accountable to the public
- Makes the process of handling requests for records held by a public body uniform and consistent
- Provides strong protection for an individual’s personal privacy
Under FIPPA, personal information is defined as any recorded information that uniquely identifies you, which includes, but is not limited to your name, address, phone number, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, fingerprints, disability or blood type.
Confidential business information includes, but is not limited to: draft correspondence; financial forecasts not yet made public; some third party business information typically supplied in confidence; specific contract language; legal opinions prepared for the health authority; some quality improvement information; ongoing labour relations issues not yet resolved; negotiations carried on or for the public body.
What does the Adult Guardianship Act (AGA) do?
The AGA promotes every adult’s right to self-determination and provides support and protection for those who are vulnerable to abuse or no longer capable of making their own decisions. Further details about the AGA can be located on the website for the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.
If I call in to report suspected adult abuse what are my rights relating to confidentiality?
Your identity is protected from disclosure under two legislations, specifically, s.46(2) of the AGA states that the identity of the person making the initial report must not be disclosed to third parties.
In addition, s.22(1) of the FIPPA will further protect your name and any personal identifiers from being released to an applicant making a request for records containing this information.
If the subject of an investigation under the AGA requests information about the complaint and investigation in order to sue the person who brought the complaint forward, in what way is the person lodging the complaint protected?
The name of the complainant is protected under both s.46(2) of the AGA and s.22(1) of FIPPA, which further protects any personal identifiers from disclosure, therefore, the name and any other identifiers of the complainant would not be released. However, other information contained in the investigation that would not identify the complainant may be released.
In addition, section 46(3) of the AGA states: “No action for damages may be brought against a person for making a report under this section or for assisting in an investigation under this Part, unless the person made the report falsely and maliciously”.
This does not stop a person from suing; the court would have to decide if the complaint was made falsely and/or maliciously.