SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
AND
RELATED PROGRAMS

("SARP")

1994

(Archive copy for historical purposes only)

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ADMINISTRATION

Confidentiality

Newfoundland

All information concerning social assistance applicants and recipients is confidential and may be communicated only to officials involved in the proper administration of the Social Assistance Act or, with the approval of a senior departmental official, of any other relevant legislation. Editorial Comment

The Social Assistance Act authorizes the Minister to enter into agreements with Human Resources Development Canada to provide for the exchange of names and social insurance numbers of applicants or recipients of social assistance and unemployment insurance. Act 27.1

Prince Edward Island
All information with respect to any individual, obtained by the Minister or an officer or employee of Her Majesty in the course of the administration of the Act or Regulations, or in carrying out an agreement with the Government of Canada, is privileged and no person shall knowingly communicate, or allow to be communicated, to any person not legally entitled thereto, any such information, or allow any person, not legally entitled thereto, to inspect or have access to any such information. Any information obtained by the Minister or an officer or employee in the department, in the course of the administration of the Act and Regulations, may be communicated to any officer or employee of the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of another province, the Government of Canada, or a private agency, where the information is required by that officer or employee in the provision of assistance or services to the person or persons to whom this information relates. Act 6
No officer or employee of Her Majesty is required, in connection with any legal proceedings, to give evidence relating to privileged information or to produce a statement containing such information. See "Offenses and Penalties", section 7.9.
Any information provided by an applicant during the application process may be communicated to any employee in any department or agency of the government of PEI, Canada or any other province, where such information is required in the provision of assistance or services to the person about whom the information is communicated. Regulation 4(4)
Nova Scotia - Provincial
Under normal circumstances, the personal information of Family Benefits clients must be held in absolute confidence. Client information can only be released:
i) with the written consent of the client; or
ii) where authorized under another Act; and/or
iii) with the Director's authorization. Policy 05-02-02
Nova Scotia - Municipal
No list of persons who are receiving or have received assistance shall be made available to any person who does not require this information to perform his lawful duty. Act 51
The municipal welfare administrator shall permit all records and files pertaining to the granting of assistance and the claims for reimbursement to be reviewed by any person so authorized by the Minister. Regulation 2(1)(n,o)
New Brunswick
All information acquired by the Minister or an employee in the Department pertaining to a recipient or former recipient is confidential to the extent that its disclosure would tend to reveal personal information about a person identifiable from the release thereof. The Minister or an employee in the Department shall not disclose confidential information pertaining to a recipient or former recipient to any person without the consent in writing of the person from whom the information was obtained and to whom the information relates. However, the Minister or an employee in the Department may permit the release of confidential information pertaining to a recipient or former recipient that is in the best interests of that person, for the purpose of the administration or enforcement of any Act or regulation falling under the jurisdiction of the Department or for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of income assistance programs:
- to an employee of any department or agency of the Province
- to an employee or agent of the federal government
- to an employee of any government department or agency of another province having a responsibility to provide financial assistance to persons in need;
- at a trial, hearing or proceedings under the Criminal Code, or the Family Services Act (or similar legislation in another province), or to a solicitor acting on behalf of any government or agency in such trial, hearing or proceedings, or
- to an officer of a council of a band (as defined in the Indian Act) responsible for providing financial assistance to persons in need on any reserve in the Province. Regulation 28(1,2,3) - amended 09-92
In cases where the information can be obtained from the client, the request should be made directly to him. In cases of emergency and exceptional circumstances, the Regional Director must ensure that disclosure is clearly in the client's best interests, that the client is incapable of determining his own best interests and that time, distance or similar factors make it impossible to obtain consent. Policy No. 8
The client's consent, written if possible, is needed for disclosure of information to the private sector, government agencies and helping agencies such as family services. No information is released to relatives or friends of the client. A Court Order, normally in the form of a subpoena, may be issued by a judge in order to obtain information from the Department during a court hearing.
Quebec
Provisions respecting the confidentiality of information concerning clients of programs under the Income Security Act are covered in the Act respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information (Revised Statutes of Quebec, chapter A-2.1). Editorial Comment
Ontario - Provincial
No specific provision concerning confidentiality.
Ontario - Municipal
No municipality or approved band shall print for public distribution, broadcast or post up in a public place, or cause to be so printed, broadcast or posted up or otherwise cause to be made public, the identity of any person who is eligible for or receives assistance. Information may be exchanged with any other government or agency solely for the purposes of determining or verifying the eligibility of any person for assistance. Regulation 11; Policy 0103-01
Manitoba - Provincial
No specific provision made.
Manitoba - Municipal
The Municipal Assistance Regulation stipulates that no municipality shall broadcast or distribute to the public, post in a public place or otherwise cause to be made public, except as required by law, the identity of any applicant or recipient or any dependant of an applicant or recipient, or information that could reasonably lead to such identification.
Regulation 18; Municipal Policy p.8
In Winnipeg, personal information concerning municipal assistance clients is not provided to anyone outside the municipal Social Services Department except as required by a court, by police officers engaged in an investigation, by certain other civic departments, by recognized collateral agencies such as federal and provincial government departments, hospitals, child welfare agencies, Salvation Army, welfare departments in other areas, elected members of Council and the provincial Appeal Board. Policy p. 8
Saskatchewan
Under the Saskatchewan Assistance Regulations, every municipal unit administering social assistance is required to protect the right to confidentiality of every client. Regulation 40(1)
Alberta
All information obtained in the administration of Social Allowance including all files, documents or papers related to cases, is restricted and may not be disclosed by any person, except as outlined below. Act 5
If the disclosure of information is necessary in the administration of the Act or is in the best interests of an applicant or his dependents, the information may be released by staff to the following:
- to an employee of the department or of any other department or agency of the government, or
- to an official of the government of Canada, or an agent thereof, or
- to an agency or authority charged with the responsibility of providing a social allowance or handicap benefit to any person under this Act, or
- to a person assisting the department or acting as an agent of the department, or
- any government department, municipality or agency of another province or territory of Canada having a responsibility to provide financial assistance to persons in need, or
- at a trial, hearing or proceeding under the Criminal Code or the Maintenance and Recovery Act related to any matter under this Act, or to a solicitor acting on behalf of any government, authority or agency and responsible for the institution of such a trial, hearing or proceeding, or
- during the hearing of an appeal before such appeal authority as is established and acting pursuant to section 28 of the Act, or
- to a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta if he has the consent of the person who has applied for or has received social allowance. Act 5(2)
Persons who contravene the above policy are liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine of $500 or, in default, imprisonment of not more than 90 days. Act 5(2,3)
British Columbia
No person shall disclose information obtained in the administration of the Act respecting an individual to another person who is not legally entitled to it. Act 6(1)
Information obtained in the administration of the Act is privileged; no person is required to produce such information in court except in a case of contravention of the Act or with the consent of the individual concerned. Act 6(2)
The Director or an administering authority may disclose information, respecting an individual, obtained in the administration of the Act and these regulations provided such disclosure:
a) is to police or next of kin in the event of death or an emergency; or
b) is to a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, with the authorization of the individual involved; or
c) is considered by the Director or administering authority to be necessary for the administration and provision of benefits and is made
i) to an employee of the Government of the Province of British Columbia or an agency of the Government of the Province of British Columbia; or
ii) to an official of the Government of Canada or an agent thereof; or
iii) to an official or employee of any authority or agency charged with the responsibility of providing income assistance or social services; or
iii.i) to a trustee of money paid by the minister to the trustee for the benefit of the individual; or
iv) to any person acting for the Ministry; or
v) to an official or employee of any Government department, municipality, school board, hospital, or agency of another province or territory of Canada; or
vi) at an appeal pursuant to section 34 of the GAIN regulations; or
vii) to another individual, with the authorization of the recipient;
or
d) is required in order that court-issued warrants, summons, subpoenas, or notices of court hearings may be served on a recipient or on a former recipient, in which case only the individual's name and last known address may be given to police or to a sheriff. Regulation 7
Information concerning a client may be shared with police (i) where police are investigating welfare fraud and have reason to believe that a person may have obtained income assistance or social services illegally, or may be using aliases for the purpose of obtaining such benefits illegally, or (ii) where police are conducting an investigation of a serious crime, such as murder or rape, where there is a significant likelihood of harm to an individual or to the general public. In both types of situations, the police must request the information in person or in writing, and the District Supervisor must approve the disclosure of the information. Policy 1.6.4 - revised 05-94
Yukon
The Regulations require the Director to administer assistance so as to protect the recipient's right to confidentiality. He must ensure that proper facilities are provided to enable applications for assistance to be made, and interviews regarding assistance to be conducted with a reasonable degree of privacy, and that records be kept in such a manner as to protect their confidentiality. Regulation 30(d)
Northwest Territories
No specific provision made.

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