Frequently Asked Questions

I am a legal guardian/parent of a supported child, and I want to make sure that personal information is shared very carefully. Under what circumstances can service providers share personal information about me, or my child, with another service provider?

Service providers can share personal information about a supported child or the supported child’s parents or legal guardians only when:

  • the personal information is about a supported child or about the supported child’s parent or legal guardian
  • the personal information is necessary to plan or provide services or benefits for the supported child
  • the service provider reasonably believes that sharing the personal information is in the supported child’s best interests

The above conditions must be met in order to share personal information, under The Protecting and Supporting Children (Information Sharing) Act.

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My child is a supported child, as defined under the act. What should service providers be mindful of when sharing personal information about my supported child with another service provider?

When sharing personal information about your supported child (or about you), service providers need to:

  • share the least amount of information necessary to plan or provide services or benefits to your supported child.
  • take reasonable steps to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • share relevant information about your strengths and that of your supported child
  • ensure that they are not subject to another act that ma y prohibit sharing the personal information

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I understand that service providers will only be able to share personal information if they believe it is in my supported child’s best interests to do so. How will service providers determine the best interests of my supported child?

Understanding how to determine the best interests of the supported child requires service providers to use their professional judgement in case-specific situations, recognizing that each situation is different. Although determining the best interests of a supported child will depend on the circumstance of each supported child, the following are questions that may be helpful in making a reasonable determination of whether sharing personal information is in a supported child’s best interests:

  • Does the disclosure support or enable services or benefits that will promote the supported child’s health, safety, mental, emotional, physical or spiritual well-being?
  • Will the disclosure avoid disruption or enhance stability in the supported child’s life?
  • Will the disclosure avoid or reduce the risk of harm to a supported child?
  • Will non-disclosure delay the provision of important services or benefits for the supported child?
  • Will the disclosure enhance services and benefits already being provided to the supported child?

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I am taking care of my nephew who is receiving disability services provided by the provincial government. I am not his legal guardian. Can the disability worker share my personal information with another service provider, to help with planning or providing other services for my nephew?

No. The act only allows service providers to share personal information with other service providers about supported children and their parents or legal guardians. Your personal information cannot be shared under this act, as you are not the legal guardian of your nephew.

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The definition of personal information includes views or opinions held by persons who are not professionally qualified to hold or make them. Does this law not create the potential for misinformation and rumours to be spread?

Personal information, including carefully made opinions, may be shared from one service provider to another. It is expected that professionals will cautiously assess the opinions and views that are expressed in various situations. For example, it is appropriate for a foster parent to tell a family physician that he thinks a supported child in care suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, if in his view, sharing this belief is necessary for the medical examination or treatment being provided to the child.

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I am a parent of a supported child, and I believe that personal information about me and my supported child has been inappropriately shared by a service provider. What can I do about this?

If you believe that a service provider has inappropriately shared your personal information (or that of your supported child), you can bring your concern to the attention of the:

  • service provider’s supervisor or manager
  • government department or agency responsible for licensing the workplace of the service provider, if applicable (e.g., Child and Family Services agencies license foster homes)
  • Office of the Children’s Advocate
  • organization responsible for regulating the profession of the service provider, if applicable (e.g., the Manitoba College of Social Workers and the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba)
  • Manitoba Ombudsman, if the service provider who shared the personal information is required to follow The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) or The Protection of Health Information Act (PHIA)

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Will a service provider need my permission before sharing personal information with another service provider?

This act allows service providers to share personal information about supported children and their parents or legal guardians without their consent. Timely sharing of information between service providers can play a crucial role in protecting the safety of at-risk children, and promoting their well-being.

Although consent is not required before sharing personal information under the act, it is a best practice for service providers to inform parents, legal guardians and supported children over 12 years of age of their legal authority to share personal information with other service providers.

Also, if service providers believe it to be in the supported child’s best interests, they should include the family when planning or providing services or benefits. Either before or after sharing personal information, a service provider may inform you about a specific disclosure.

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If a service provider shares my supported child’s personal information with another service provider and a record (e.g., a case note) is created, what happens to that record?

Under the act, service providers do not have to create a record when they receive, use or share personal information. However, if a record is made or received, service providers must protect the information against unauthorized access, use, disclosure or destruction (e.g., store records in a locked file cabinet when they are not working with them). Also, when the record is no longer required, a service provider must destroy it in a way that protects your child’s privacy.

If a service provider is required to follow another act that has more detailed obligations about keeping records (e.g., The Child and Family Services Act or The Personal Health Information Act), that other act takes priority.

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Why is my child, who has an individual education plan, included in this act?

The Public Schools Act requires that when a school team has identified that a student has exceptional learning needs that require student-specific outcomes that are additions to, different from or exceed the curricular outcomes, then an individual education planning process should occur. Schools are responsible for ensuring that parents are informed of students’ progress at the regularly scheduled reporting periods throughout the year or more frequently if programming changes are deemed appropriate. Schools are also responsible for involving parents, legal guardians, and students (when appropriate), as well as teachers and other professionals in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of students’ individual education plans (IEPs).

Children with IEPs are included in the act to allow service providers and trustees under The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) to collect, use and share personal information with other service providers, and connect children (students) with services and supports outside of the school system. Information about children with IEPs or their parents or legal guardians can only be shared if the service provider (e.g., a school team members or a school division administrator) believes the disclosure is in the supported child’s best interests.

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