The recent expansion of the Missing Persons Act now requires the mandatory cooperation of healthcare professionals in assisting in police investigations, by providing helpful resources in locating missing persons.
A message from Richard Steinecke, Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario (FHRCO) Legal Counsel:
“There is a new law, effective July 1st, that applies to everyone but may have special application to health care practitioners. The Missing Persons Act (https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/18m03) enables police to make an “urgent demand for records” where the “missing person” has not been in contact with people they would expect to have been in contact with and there is reasonable grounds to believe their safety is at risk. While this demand can be made of anyone, it is anticipated that health care practitioners, cell phone providers and financial institutions are most likely to receive these requests. The request from the police will specify the type of information sought, which information is intended to assist the police in locating the individual. This new power is designed to assist in cases where no criminal activity is suspected (where search warrants would be available). Likely the exceptions in the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) already permits this disclosure, but now cooperation is mandatory.”