Monday, September 03, 2007

BC Commissioner: Student records can be shared to protect public safety

Proably not a surprise for those who regularly work with the provincial public sector privacy laws in Canada, which usually contain a public interest and "health and safety" override:

Records of troubled B.C. students can be shared: privacy commissioner

Universities in British Columbia can share confidential medical records about troubled students if there's a perceived a threat to public safety, the province's privacy commissioner says.

Responding to a U.S. government report issued June 13 on the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead — including the student who fired the gun — David Loukidelis said a university student's confidential medical records can be shared — regardless of the student's age.

"The laws in B.C. fully enable university and college officials to take steps to protect individual and indeed public safety," Loukidelis told CBC News on Monday.

The U.S. report says schools, doctors and police often do not share information about potentially dangerous students because they can't figure out complicated and overlapping privacy laws.

Loukidelis said there's a long list of exemptions in B.C.'s privacy laws that allow a student's private information to be shared for the good of public safety.

Tim Rahilly, senior director of student and community life at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, said he often noticed the beginning of problems with students and wondered whether that information could be shared.

He said the university would ask the student whether it can talk to the student's parents about the concerns.

"The student can say no and if they are above the age of majority we are a little bit hamstrung," Rahilly said.

Loukidelis said if a student denies a request to share personal information with their parents or school officials, an assessment can be made.


Nil Koksal reports for CBC-TV (Runs: 2:28)

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