Posted on May 1, 2020
DOCTORS FILE PRIVACY COMPLAINT AGAINST SHANDRO’S STAFF
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association has asked Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate whether staff in Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s office released private health information for political purposes.
The complaint follows online comments from Shandro’s issues manager and press secretary, who claimed pediatricians at Garneau Pediatric Associates were “misleading patients” about the impact of Shandro’s cuts on their practice model, and discussed the clinic’s billing data on Twitter.
There has been an emotional outpouring of support for the doctors from parents of children who attend Garneau Pediatrics, using the hashtag #patients4ABdocs. Doctors across Alberta also expressed concern about the staff’s handling of health information.
In a statement released on Friday, the medical staff association writes, “Billing data collected by Alberta Health contains private information protected by the Health Information Act. We are filing this complaint to insure the Minister’s office did not access patient information inappropriately. Private patient information must not be obtained and used for politics.
“We are also concerned that the political staffers of the Minister breached the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act by obtaining business information of the Garneau Pediatric Associates and releasing it to the public. An investigation will bring to light if the Minister’s office has violated the Act. Despite the formal inquiry, as colleagues of the Garneau Pediatric Associates, we are deeply troubled that the UCP would single out a clinic to induce fear, anxiety and intimidation. It is distasteful and unbecoming of a Minister’s office to abuse their power by menacing our colleagues.”
This is the second time that Minister Shandro and his staff have drawn questions about their handling of private information. In February, Shandro pressured Alberta Health Services staff into giving him the personal cell phone numbers of two doctors, and then phoned them late at night. AHS later admitted it was inappropriate to share doctors’ personal contact details and reported the incident to the Alberta Medical Association.
“It’s disgusting to see Tyler Shandro and his political staff smear Alberta doctors on social media,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health, “and it’s very concerning to see this obnoxious behaviour escalate to a level where doctors question if Alberta’s minister of health can even be trusted to handle health information that is protected by law.”
“Tyler Shandro and his staff are trying to discredit professionals who have dedicated their careers to caring for children with complex medical problems. It’s reprehensible, and Albertans see right through it,” Shepherd said.