What Access and Privacy Laws do Affiliates Have to Comply With?

January 28, 2015 - Diane Aldridge, Director of Compliance

I think half the battle when it comes to access and privacy is learning the lingo. Sometimes definitions are found in the statute referenced, but not always. One term that comes up often in our line of work is “affiliates”. Well, what does it mean and why is it important?

The word affiliate is used in different places and in different contexts to mean different things. For instance in Alberta, an affiliate is often used to describe a person employed by or providing a service for a custodian. Here in Saskatchewan, we use the term trustee, not custodian and affiliate means something else.

In order for an organization to identify which Saskatchewan access and privacy law applies, it first must determine if it is a government institution, local authority, trustee or none of the above. At first blush, it is unclear if affiliate ‘fits the bill’, so further investigation is warranted.

Affiliate is not included in the definition of “government institution” in The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP). It is however included in the definition of “local authority” in The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP). Clearly, this law then applies. LA FOIP also indicates “affiliate” is defined in The Regional Health Services Act (RHSA).

Our line of inquiry does not end here though. We often think of affiliates in Saskatchewan as having a connection to the health sector. So, does The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) apply to affiliates too? What is a bit surprising is that in the list of trustees in HIPA, affiliate is not found but is separately defined as an affiliate in the RHSA. It would seem then to constitute something other than a trustee. A trustee can however be a “health care organization” which HIPA indicates is also defined in the RHSA. What light can the RHSA shed? “Health care organization” is defined here as “a prescribed person that receives funding from a regional health authority to provide health services” or “an affiliate” and further defines the term. In short, the Ministry of Health’s website describes affiliates as “those not-for-profit organizations that operate hospitals and special care homes”.

In conclusion, as affiliates are local authorities and trustees in their own right, they need to ensure that they comply with LA FOIP and HIPA.

And, just as a side note, listed as a prescribed local authority in PART II of the LA FOIP Regulations are “health care organizations” as defined in the RHSA. And around and around we go!

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