Dental benefit information available to parents with daughter’s consent

Settled case summary #2010-001

Lessons Learned

  • Organizations may require the consent of mature minors before disclosing their personal information to their parents.

Complaints

The parents of a 17-year old were unable to access her online dental benefit information from the administrator of their group dental plan even though they are plan members and pay for the dental expenses of their daughter, who is a dependent. The administrator’s policy is that anyone 16 years of age or older must provide consent before another plan member can access their information.

Outcome

The administrator defended its policy based on the following considerations:

  • under PIPEDA, an individual’s knowledge and consent are required for the disclosure of personal information;
  • there is no national consensus on what constitutes the age of majority in Canada; and
  • the age of majority does not necessarily translate to the age of consent.

In the absence of a clear guideline, the administrator based its policy on the Ontario Health Care Consent Act, which alluded to the fact that an individual must be at least 16 years old to provide health care related consent.

The rationale behind the administrator’s policy was explained to the girl’s mother. She was satisfied with the explanation and considered it to be reasonable. The mother also understood that she can access her daughter’s account if her daughter provides her consent by providing her parents with her account password.

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