Nova Scotia·Video

Andrew Younger to file privacy complaint against Kirby McVicar

Andrew Younger says he plans to file a formal complaint against the premier's chief of staff after he released private health information about Younger without his consent.

Premier's chief of staff told reporters Younger suffered from brain tumour, PTSD

Former Liberal cabinet minister Andrew Younger, right, accuses Kirby McVicar, the premier's chief of staff, of breaching privacy laws by revealing the MLA's medical information. (CBC)

Former Liberal cabinet minister Andrew Younger says he plans to file a formal complaint against the premier's chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, after he released private health information about Younger without his consent. 

"Yesterday, Mr. McVicar disclosed some accurate and some inaccurate information about my personal health," Younger told reporters on Tuesday.

"I think all Nova Scotians should be concerned when their government or their employer releases private health information without consent and in violation of the law."

Andrew Younger to file privacy complaint

6 years ago
13:26
Younger plans to file a formal complaint against the premier's chief of staff after he released private health information about Younger without his consent. 13:26

McVicar resigned on Tuesday afternoon amid the controversy.

Earlier this week, McVicar spoke for the first time about a secretly recorded conversation last February with Younger, who was on a forced leave from cabinet.

On the tape, McVicar says he hopes a "legal situation" involving Younger will "get tossed" and appears out of the blue to offer to find Younger's wife, Katia Younger, a job.

PTSD diagnosis

He said the job offer was simply an attempt to take pressure off an MLA who was under tremendous stress. McVicar said Younger told him he had post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain tumour.

Younger told reporters he has been diagnosed with PTSD but said it's "not accurate" that he has a brain tumour.

"In fact, if this situation wasn't so serious it would make me laugh. I never claimed to have that."

Younger said he feels his treatment by the government amounts to "bullying."

He also said he had yet to tell some members of his family of his PTSD diagnosis. He said the diagnosis has nothing to do with his job as a cabinet minister. He would not say what it relates to.

Younger also said Stephen McNeil should seriously consider whether his chief of staff is indeed speaking for the premier.

Act forbids disclosing medical information 

Younger said in a statement that McVicar violated the Personal Health Information Act. That law says a person's health information should not be disclosed unless consent is granted, it is necessary for a "lawful purpose," or is required under the act.

He also said McVicar violated a section of the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that forbids government officials from disclosing medical information.

According to Section 20 (3) of the act:

"A disclosure of personal information is presumed to be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's personal privacy if (a) the personal information relates to a medical, dental, psychiatric, psychological or other health-care history, diagnosis, condition, treatment or evaluation."

On Monday, Justice Minister Diana Whalen said she does not think McVicar broke the law.

"I don't believe so at all, but I don't have an answer to that, so I'm not prepared to talk to that right now," she said.

Revealing health information an 'absolute no-no'

Graham Steele, a former provincial finance minister turned political commentator for CBC Nova Scotia, said he thinks McVicar has made a serious mistake.

Steele said he was surprised McVicar granted interviews Monday and said he's shocked the chief of staff discussed the medical condition of Younger.

"Staff people aren't necessarily used to being on camera and I think Mr. McVicar might possibly have made things worse yesterday rather than better by revealing detailed information about Mr. Younger's mental health — which is an absolute no-no in any line of work. I have a feeling the story is going to pursue that angle over the next couple of days."

The issue of the recording, including two small snippets that were previously released, has dominated question period and been headline news since the legislature resumed for the fall sitting.

McVicar has not offered to resign.

The opposition parties have called on McVicar to be removed from his post, pending the outcome of an RCMP investigation. The Mounties were called by the premier's office last week after a 43-second piece of the recording detailing the Katia Younger job offer was dropped off at the legislature.

The Liberals also demanded Younger hand over the entire recording of the conversation. Younger denied last week he had it.

However, faced with a warrant issued by the Speaker of the House, he says he found a copy on the a cloud-based backup and turned it in to the legislature on Monday.

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