The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta, Frank Work, has issued an order under the province's Health Informtion Act that will likely stand as a strong precedent for PIPEDA and other privacy laws.
In this particular case, the guardian of a "mature minor" was requesting information related to her daughter. The Commissioner concluded that if the minor "understands the nature of the right or power and the consequences of exercising the right or power" in the Act, the guardian cannot exercise those powers. This test comes directly from the Act:
104(1) Any right or power conferred on an individual by this Act may be exercised …..(b) if the individual is under 18 years of age and understands the nature of the right or power and the consequences of exercising the right or power, by the individual,
(c) if the individual is under 18 years of age but does not meet the criterion in clause (b), by the guardian of the individual.
The decision inclues a thorough review of the evolving norms and standards in Canadian law related to "mature minors".
The Commissioner's press release on the Order is below:
Commissioner issues important ruling on the authority of a guardian versus a mature minor:The Order is Number F2005-017 and H2005-001.
June 26, 2006
Edmonton... Alberta's Information and Privacy Commissioner has ruled that a parent who requested her daughter's medical records did not have the right to exercise the daughter's rights or powers under the Health Information Act (HIA).
Frank Work made the determination during an inquiry into a request from a parent for access to certain medical records regarding her daughter. The Commissioner has ruled that in this particular case, the minor was entitled to exercise her own rights or powers under the HIA because she was able to understand the nature and consequences of exercising those rights. Such an individual is also known as a mature minor.
The HIA allows a guardian to exercise the rights or powers of a minor if the guardian can show that the minor does not understand the nature or the consequences of exercising the right or power.
In making the ruling, Commissioner Work indicated that he did not have jurisdiction to hear other issues put forward at the inquiry.