Personal Health Information Act (Nova Scotia)

Overview

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The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) is provincial privacy legislation in Nova Scotia that applies to the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information. The PHIA recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal health information and the need of custodians to collect, use and disclose personal health information to provide, support and manage health care.

Customers are always in control of how they manage and access their content stored on AWS. AWS does not have knowledge of what customers are uploading onto its network, including whether or not that data is deemed subject to PHIA legislation, and customers are responsible for ensuring their own PHIA compliance. AWS customers can design and implement an AWS environment, and use AWS services in a manner that satisfies their obligations under PHIA.

The AWS Canada (Central) Region is currently available for multiple services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). For a complete list of AWS Regions and services, visit the Global Infrastructure page. Canada Region pricing is available on the detail page of each service, which can be found through our products & services page

  • What is PIPEDA, what is PIIDPA and what is PHIA? What is the relationship between these laws?

    The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a Canadian federal law that applies to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in the course of commercial activities in all Canadian provinces. Certain Canadian provinces have also adopted their own general privacy laws for both the public and private sector, as well as privacy laws specific to personal health information. The Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act (PIIDPA) is privacy legislation enacted to protect the personal information of Nova Scotians from disclosure from outside Canada. Personal health information (PHI) is a subset of personal information identified under PIIDPA. The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) is privacy legislation in Nova Scotia that applies to the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information that is in the custody or under the control of a custodian.

    Personal health information means identifying information about an individual, whether living or deceased, and in both recorded and unrecorded form if the information relates to health history, eligibility or registration information as further defined in the PHIA. The term “custodian” means an individual or organization who has the custody or control of personal health information as a result of or in connection with performing the persons’ or organization’s powers or duties and as further defined in the PHIA. Custodians include regulated health professionals and group practices, health authorities, health centres, review boards, pharmacies, and Canadian Blood Services as well as continuing care facilities as specified in the PHIA.

    Whether, and the extent to which, an AWS customer is subject to PIIDPA, PHIA, or any other Canadian provincial privacy requirements may vary depending on the customer’s business.

    Other organizations may be subject to PIPEDA or provincial privacy laws as well. For more information about PIPEDA, please visit the AWS website here.

    Customers should consult their own legal advisors to understand the privacy laws to which they are subject.

  • How can customers comply with PHIA on AWS?

    AWS customers can design and implement an AWS environment, and use AWS services in a manner that satisfies their obligations under PHIA.

    Customers that are subject to PHIA may have to comply with requirements relating to the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information. AWS gives customers control over how their content is stored or processed when using AWS services, including control over how that content is secured and who can access that content. AWS provides services that customers can configure and use to aid in the security of personal health information they store on AWS, and it is the responsibility of the customer to architect a solution that meets applicable privacy requirements.

    Note that there is no officially recognized “certification” for PHIA compliance in the same way that an entity might be SOC, PCI, or FedRAMP certified or authorized. Instead, AWS offers its customers considerable information regarding the policies, processes, and controls established and operated by AWS. AWS provides workbooks, whitepapers, and best practice guides on our AWS Compliance Resources page and customers have on-demand access to the AWS third-party audit reports in AWS Artifact.

  • Does AWS access health information that customers put on AWS?

    Customers are always in control of how they manage and access their content stored on AWS. AWS provides an advanced set of access, encryption, and logging features to help customers manage their access and content. AWS does not access or disclose customer content unless at the direction of the customer, or if necessary to comply with the law or a legally valid and binding order of a governmental or regulatory body having jurisdiction. Unless AWS is legally prohibited from doing so or there is a clear indication of illegal conduct in connection with the use of AWS services, AWS notifies customers before disclosing customer content so they can seek protection from disclosure. For more information, visit our Data Privacy FAQ.

  • Does PHIA prohibit an AWS customer from having data in transit or at rest outside of Nova Scotia or outside of Canada?

    Customers should consult their own legal advisors when seeking to comply with privacy laws. PHIA legislation may allow custodians to store or disclose personal health information outside of Nova Scotia, subject to certain requirements. Under PIIDPA, public bodies may be required to store and access personal information within Canada. It is the responsibility of each customer to determine whether transferring and storing data outside of Nova Scotia or outside of Canada satisfies their security and privacy obligations under PHIA or PIIDPA.


    AWS customers should consider whether PIPEDA or the laws of any other Canadian provinces may apply, and review such laws for any data residency limitations. AWS customers choose the region(s) in which their content will be stored. AWS will not move or replicate customer content outside of the customer’s chosen region(s) without the customer’s consent.

  • Does PHIA require that health information be encrypted?

    Under PHIA, there is no specific requirement to encrypt health information. However, entities subject to PHIA are required to take steps to safeguard health information and it is the responsibility of each customer to determine whether encryption is appropriate to satisfy its security obligations. AWS recommends that health information always be encrypted at rest and in transit as a best practice.

  • How can customers get information to complete a Privacy Impact Assessment in connection with using AWS?

    AWS makes available a wide range of materials to help customers understand the AWS environment and security controls. AWS provides customers with on-demand access to third- party audit reports (such as our SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports) in AWS Artifact. AWS also provides workbooks, whitepapers, and best practices on our AWS Compliance Resources page about how to run workloads on AWS in a secure manner.

  • How do customers implement auditing and logging of their environment on AWS?

    As part of the Shared Responsibility Model, customers should consider implementing auditing and logging across their AWS environment in a manner sufficient to meet their compliance requirements. AWS offers services that make scalable logging and log analytics architectures simpler to implement. AWS also has a variety of partners in the AWS Marketplace that provide security logging solutions. Refer to the AWS Security-Logging Capabilities page for more information on how to implement logging on AWS.

  • Can you provide examples of other healthcare organizations in Canada utilizing AWS?

    You can read our latest blog about trends in Canadian healthcare. Information on healthcare compliance on the AWS Cloud can be found here.

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