Alberta to share medical information with foreign governments (commentary)

A concerned reader from Canada sent me this commentary with permission to post it:

Alberta¹’s legislature has introduced amendments to the Public Health Act that allow the province’s Chief Medical Officer to release personal medical information to the government of a foreign country or an agency of any of those governments for a range of purposes, including the general public interest.

The new law will require schools to disclose the detailed personal information of parents and sensitive medical information of students from contagious diseases to psychological conditions, STDs or addictions. From early childhood services programs onward, schools will have no option but to comply or face a $500,000 penalty. Parents and students will have no way to opt out or to know that their family’s personal medical information has been disclosed, or to whom.

The provisions seem destined to supersede (or invalidate) existing laws designed to protect private information from foreign powers and requiring individual consent before transferring personal information outside of Canada.

So while many Canadian Facebook users are incensed that the company might keep their personal information on file, few even know that their government is amassing even more sensitive information and preparing to exchange it with foreign governments, without any opportunity to know whose information is divulged, for what reason, or to object to it being disclosed.

The full text of amendments to the Public Health Act are contained in Bill 7

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