News Room

Speeches

Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2013: Minister's Statement

THE HONOURABLE DEB MATTHEWS
MINISTER OF HEALTH AND LONG-TERM CARE

May 29, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our government's Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2013.

This legislation would protect patient privacy by making their personal health information safe and secure so that electronic health records can be shared by health providers in a patient's circle of care.

This proposed new legislation would amend:

Our current privacy laws have done a great job of protecting patient privacy, but as we enable the sharing of electronic health records between health providers in a patient's circle of care, we need new rules in place to safeguard patient privacy.

I believe that patients have a right to protect their privacy when it comes to personal health information. This includes a right to choose what information is shared with other health providers.

To support patient privacy, we need robust privacy rules in place for patient records – and these amendments seek to achieve just that.

These proposed amendments are as much about enabling providers to work together on a shared system of electronic health as they are about giving patients greater control over what appears in their electronic medical histories.

Mr. Speaker, this proposed legislation was developed in close collaboration with our health care partners, including eHealth Ontario, Ontario's nursing, medical and hospital associations and our health professional regulatory colleges.

But first and foremost, we relied on the advice of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. We could not have developed this important legislation without the crucial and valued input of her office.

I am very pleased that the Information and Privacy Commissioner has expressed her full support for the proposed amendments, on the grounds that they will support shared electronic health record development while also protecting patients' personal privacy.

The proposed Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act would clarify the authority for which healthcare providers may collect, use and share information; it would also establish rules respecting an individual's right to determine what can and cannot be shared with other health care providers.

These proposed amendments would also seek to double existing penalties for privacy violations for those handling personal health information.

Mr. Speaker, through our Action Plan for Health Care, our government is transforming health care so that all patients can have access to the right care, at the right time, and in the right place.

That means delivering the right care through family doctors, nurse practitioners, community health centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, hospital emergency rooms, physician specialists, home care providers, and others.

We want to help our health care providers to work together, as a team, with the patient's care at the centre.

Secure, shared electronic health records that protect every patients' personal health information is key to health care transformation.

Shared EHRs will allow information about laboratory results, medication histories, and patient care currently contained in electronic medical record software to be shared between multiple health care providers within a patient's circle of care.

The result will be improved quality, safety and integration of patient care. But at the same time, we need to ensure that this information is safe, secure, and private.

Electronic health records contain information from a variety of health care providers, including lab results, medication history, and information from the electronic medical records used by physicians and nurse practitioners.

Approximately 10,000 Ontario physicians, providing health care for 2 out of 3 Ontarians, are participating in the province's electronic medical record program.

I want to thank Ontario's physicians, eHealth Ontario, and everyone who has helped to make this progress possible.

Now, we need to take the next step in integrating our health care system.

Eventually, shared EHRs will include data from hospital information systems, community care clinics and other providers as well.

Over time, these EHRs would be connected to each and every patient across Ontario. They would be their guide to their personal health and well-being connecting all their health providers under one system of care.

Mr. Speaker, our proposed amendments would support better information sharing and coordination among all the health care providers and organizations a patient may come in contact with, while protecting each patient's personal information.

Better, more complete information leads to more integrated and coordinated care so that no one falls through the cracks.

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the Members of this chamber as well as each and every person in Ontario that the privacy of everyone's personal health information is critically important to our government, which is why we need to move forward on these proposed amendments.

I urge all Members to support this legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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