Manitoba

Ex-cop fined $7,500 for accessing daughter's health records

​In what is the first case of its kind in the province, a former Manitoba Health employee who accessed the medical records of his estranged daughter has been fined $7,500.

Was a Manitoba Health employee when he accessed records about psychiatric hospitalization

The fate of a Winnipeg Police Service constable charged with sexual assault, criminal harassment and breach of trust is now in the hands of a judge. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

​In what is the first case of its kind in the province, a former Manitoba Health employee who accessed the medical records of his estranged daughter has been fined $7,500.

The 58-year-old accused, a retired city police officer, was convicted after trial earlier this year of one count of accessing personal health information in violation of the Personal Health Information Act.

CBC is not naming the offender to protect the identity of his daughter.

As a former police officer, the man would have been well aware of the importance of complying with the act, Judge Cynthia Devine said Friday.

"More than anyone else, police officers know how to execute their duties in concert with the law," Devine said. "His moral culpability in committing this offence is very high."

Court heard at trial the man accessed his daughter's private health records in April 2014 after learning from his ex-wife that she had been hospitalized for psychiatric issues. The man testified at trial it was only after he read the records that he learned the hospital stay had been four years earlier.

Prior to the information breach, the woman had not disclosed her hospital stay to even her closest friends, court was told. She sank into depression and later lost her job and her house.

"This is a breach of trust," Crown attorney Jocelyne Ritchot told court Friday. "There is no question people employed in the health care sector are in a position of trust and should know they don't have the authority to access whatever information they want, whenever they want," Ritchot said.

Defence lawyer Gene Zazelenchuk urged Devine to consider a conditional discharge, arguing his client was concerned about his daughter and had no "nefarious" purpose in accessing her records.

"You don't stop being a parent just because your child doesn't want to talk to you," Zazelenchuk said. "He wanted to take a look and see if there was anything at the moment to cause concern ... It was done out of parental concern — plain and simple."

About the Author

Dean Pritchard

Court reporter

A reporter for over 20 years, CBC Manitoba's Dean Pritchard has covered the court beat since 1999, both in the Brandon region and Winnipeg. He can be contacted at dean.pritchard@cbc.ca.