Summary

36393

Peterborough Regional Health Centre, et al. v. Heike Hesse and Erkenraadje Wensvoort on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, et al.

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)

Keywords

Privacy - Breach, Torts.

Summary

Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

Privacy law – Breach of privacy rights – Statutory interpretation – Legislative intention to create complete code – Tort law – Intrusion upon seclusion – Whether the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act, S.O. 2004, c. 3, Sch. A, creates an exhaustive code governing patient records that precludes common law claims for breach of privacy and ousts the jurisdiction of the Superior Court – Does the new tort of intrusion upon seclusion allow the court to ignore comprehensive legislative codes affording remedies for breach of privacy? – When a comprehensive statutory scheme administered by an expert decision-maker provides adequate and effective remedies, must the court defer adjudication of disputes whose essential character relates to that scheme until the statutory remedies are exhausted?

Erkenraadje Wensvoort is a representative plaintiff in a proposed class action. She and 280 other patients of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (“the Hospital”) received notices from the Hospital, as required by the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act, S.O. 2004, c. 3, Sch. A (“PHIPA”), indicating that the privacy of her personal health information had been breached. Mandy Edgerton Reid, is a registered practical nurse who worked at the Hospital. The statement of claim states that she and other individual defendants, who were all Hospital employees when the breaches occurred, improperly accessed and disclosed patient records. Ms. Wensvoort initially relied on breaches of PHIPA to assert a cause of action. The statement of claim was subsequently amended to contain only the common law tort of intrusion upon seclusion (breach of privacy), recognized by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32, 108 O.R. (3d) 241. The Hospital brought a motion to strike the claim and dismiss the action, on the ground that PHIPA is an exhaustive code that ousts the jurisdiction of the Superior Court to entertain any common law claim for invasion of privacy rights in relation to patient records.