At the Healthcare Benefit Trust (“HBT”), we are committed to providing our member-employers and their eligible employees with exceptional service. Providing this service requires that the Trust collect, use and disclose some personal information about our members’ employees, and their dependents and beneficiaries. Therefore, protecting their personal information is one of our highest priorities.
While we have always respected the privacy of our covered employees and their dependants and taken steps to safeguard their personal information, we have strengthened our commitment to protecting personal information as a result of British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) which came into effect on January 1, 2004. PIPA sets out the rules for how BC businesses and not-for-profit organizations including the Trust may collect, use and disclose personal information.
This Policy may be amended in response to changes in the law, or changes in HBT’s practice or procedure.
In no event shall the terms of this Policy affect or alter the interpretation of the terms of the Trust Agreement or the benefit plans and, in the event of any conflict, the Trust Agreement or benefit plan will prevail.
Policy 1 – Collecting Personal Information
- HBT collects personal information about covered employees for the purposes of enrolling them in the benefit plan, calculating and collecting contributions, and paying claims. As this information is required for an employee’s enrolment in and coverage under HBT, PIPA does not require that employees provide consent for the collection of that personal information. However, on request, we will advise of the purposes for which personal information is being collected, either orally or in writing, before or at the time of collection.
Policy 2 – Consent
- Consent is implied where the purpose of the collection, use or disclosure of the personal information would be considered obvious and the employee voluntarily provides personal information to the employer or HBT for that purpose.
- Covered employees may withhold or withdraw their consent for HBT to use their personal information in certain ways. However, a decision to withhold or withdraw their consent to certain uses of personal information may restrict our ability to provide coverage under the benefit plan for the employee and eligible dependents. In those circumstances, we will explain the situation to assist the employee in making the decision about whether to give or withdraw his or her consent.
- We may collect, use or disclose personal information without the employee’s knowledge or consent in the following limited circumstances:
- When the collection, use or disclosure of personal information is permitted or required by law;
- In an emergency that threatens an individual’s life, health, or personal security and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
- When the personal information is available from a public source (e.g., a telephone directory);
- When we require legal advice from a lawyer;
- For the purposes of collecting a debt owing to HBT;
- To protect HBT from fraud;
- To investigate an anticipated breach of an agreement or contravention of the law.
Policy 3 – Using and Disclosing Personal Information
- HBT may disclose personal information to our agents in order to administer benefits under the benefit plan.
- We will not use or disclose personal information for a purpose unrelated to the provision of benefits under the benefit plan, unless we obtain consent to do so (or we do not need consent given the applicable law).
- We will not sell lists or personal information to other parties.
Policy 4 – Retaining Personal Information
- If we use personal information to make a decision that directly affects the individual, we will retain that personal information for at least one year so that individual has a reasonable opportunity to request access to it.
- Subject to policy 4.1, we will retain personal information only as long as necessary to fulfill the identified purposes or to serve a legal or business purpose.
Policy 5 – Ensuring Accuracy of Personal Information
- We will make reasonable efforts to ensure that personal information is accurate and complete where that information may be used to make a decision about that individual or disclosed to another organization.
- Individuals may request correction of their personal information in HBT’s possession. A request to correct personal information must be made in writing and provide sufficient detail to identify the personal information and the correction being sought. A request to correct personal information should be forwarded to the Privacy Officer at the Healthcare Benefit Trust.
- If the individual seeking a correction demonstrates that HBT’s record is inaccurate or incomplete, we will correct the information as required and send the corrected information to any organization to which we disclosed the personal information in the previous year. If the correction is not made, we will note the correction request in the file.
Policy 6 – Securing Personal Information
- We are committed to ensuring the security of personal information in order to protect it from unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification or disposal or similar risks.
- We will use appropriate security measures when collecting, using, disclosing and destroying personal information.
- Specifically, HBT uses a secure server to receive information from member-employers, and limits access to information received.
- We will continually review and update our security policies and controls as technology changes to ensure ongoing personal information security.
Policy 7 – Providing Access to Personal Information
- Individuals have a right to access their personal information, subject to limited exceptions.
- A request to access personal information must be made in writing and provide sufficient detail to identify the personal information being sought. A request to access personal information should be forwarded to the Privacy Officer at the Healthcare Benefit Trust.
- Upon request, we will also tell individuals how we have used their personal information and to whom it has been disclosed if applicable.
- We will make the requested information available within 30 business days, or provide written notice of an extension where additional time is required to respond to the request.
- A minimal fee may be charged for providing access to personal information. Where a fee may apply, we will inform the individual of the cost and request further direction on whether or not we should proceed with the request.
- If a request is refused in full or in part, we will notify the individual in writing, providing the reasons for refusal and the recourse available to the individual.
- A request may be refused, for example, if the personal information is protected by solicitor-client privilege, or it was collected for the purposes of an ongoing investigation, or if the disclosure could threaten the safety of another individual.
Policy 8 – Website Specific Privacy Policies
- HBT maintains a website (the “Website“) to provide its member-employers and their eligible employees with convenient access to information about HBT and the benefit plan and to assist users manage their benefit needs. What follows are privacy policies that are specific to personal information provided to HBT through the Website (the “Website Policies“). The Website Policies are intended to supplement the more general privacy policies set out above.
- By accessing the Website you accept the terms of these Website Policies. If you do not accept the terms of these Website Policies you should not access the Website. You should periodically revisit this posting to review any revisions. If such revisions are unacceptable you must cease using the Website. If you continue to use or access the Website after a revision, you are deemed to have accepted the revision.
- Collecting, Using and Disclosing Personal Information: In addition to the personal information HBT collects for the purposes outlined in policy 1 above, HBT collects, uses and discloses the personal information provided to HBT when an individual makes specific uses of the website. When HBT receives an individual’s personal information through the Website, it collects, uses and discloses that personal information for one or more of the following purposes:
- to create an account requested by a user;
- to permit a user to access restricted areas of the Website;
- to permit a user to make online changes to the personal information in HBT’s possession through the Website;
- to receive and respond to requests for feedback or inquires from users;
- to enforce the Website Terms and Conditions and to take steps to ensure the security of the Website;
- to monitor use of the Website;
- to take any other action required or permitted by law.
- Collecting Other Information: HBT also collects, uses and discloses non-personal information through the Website, including a user’s URL, IP address, browser and operating system information, and the location of the user’s server. HBT uses “cookie” technology to track user preferences and activities on the Website. Cookies are small amounts of data that are transferred from HBT’s server to your computer’s hard drive for record-keeping purposes. Cookies may store a variety of non-personal information about how you use the Website. If you do not wish to accept cookies, you can block or disable the technology. However, be aware that you may not have access to certain portions of the Website if you do so.
- Consent to the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information: HBT does not collect personal information through the Website unless users choose to provide that information. If you provide personal information through the Website you are deemed to consent to HBT’s collection, use and disclosure of that information as is reasonably necessary to satisfy one or more of the purposes outlined above. By providing personal information through the Website, users acknowledge and agree that they understand and consent to that information being used for one or more of the purposes outlined above.
- Securing Personal Information: HBT has implemented physical and technical measures to protect personal information obtained through the Website against loss or theft, unauthorized access, use or disclosure. For example, the Website uses Secure Socket Layer encryption, log-in identification (ID) number and password protection, firewall as well as timed logouts to ensure confidentiality. Please review HBT’s Website Security Statement for further information on the steps HBT takes to protect personal information. HBT periodically reviews its security measures, but you can also help protect your personal information by keeping your password confidential and safe and by signing out of your account and closing
Policy 9 – Questions and Complaints: The Role of the Privacy Officer
- Any complaints, concerns or questions regarding the Healthcare Benefit Trust’s compliance, should be directed in writing to the Privacy Officer. If the Privacy Officer is unable to resolve the concern, the individual may also write to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia.
Contact information for the Healthcare Benefit Trust’s Privacy Officer:
Healthcare Benefit Trust
#350 – 2889 East 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5M 4T5
Toll free: 1.888.736.2087