Privacy commissioner finds some questions irrelevant
The Island’s privacy czar has ruled that a controversial assessment form violates the rights of clients of the Disability Support Program.
In a ruling handed down Oct. 3, Information and Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose upheld a complaint in which Charlottetown resident Stephen Pate complained that many of the questions asked on the DSP’s screening questionnaire were never used to make payment for the needs of the program’s disabled clientele.
“I’m just hoping they work to match supports to people’s needs and not just to the answers on a questionnaire”
The multi-question form included questions on a client’s behaviour, memory, safety, nutrition, community integration and function. But Rose determined that only the questions relating to function were ever considered when DSP workers decided how much financial support a client would be eligible to receive.
“I think it is appropriate to point out to the head of the public body that there are certainly reasons not to collect personal information. For example, a public body should not collect a client’s personal information to save ‘for a rainy day’ in case a program is expanded and the information turns out to be useful at that time,” she wrote in a decision mailed to Pate.
“It is equally erroneous to fall into the trap of collecting personal information simply because it is ‘on the form.’ ”
The ruling largely is academic at this point because the operators of the DSP voluntarily stopped using the questionnaire in July. Rose said she hopes they consider any future screening tools in light of the requirements of the Island’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation.
Pate said he hopes this ruling signals a new mindset
within the operations of the Island’s disability support plan.
“The problem with a questionnaire system is they have all this money isolated in buckets and depending on your answers you can access one bucket and not another so you get 85 per cent or 15 per cent or whatever of the maximum amount,” he said.
“The way it should work is that there should be a decision that someone is disabled or not and then they have a professional look at the case and say how much support they need. It could be a doctor or a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist. The government has all these professionals that it’s already paying anyway.”
Pate said he has been told by the Liberal government that a re-examination of disability support is in the works.
“I’m just hoping they work to match supports to people’s needs and not just to the answers on a questionnaire,” he said.
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