On October 2, 2021, BCSS held its Annual General Meeting. During the meeting, Dr. Mahesh Menon was presented with this year’s BCSS Champion Award for the work he has done to help bring cognitive remediation training to BC. Dr. Menon has been instrumental in helping train and establish the cognitive remediation training pilot sites across BC. Cognitive remediation training helps people who are able to successfully manage their schizophrenia spectrum disorder through medication improve their cognition and functioning.

After the conclusion of the AGM, our CEO, Faydra Aldridge, welcomed Minister Sheila Malcolmson from the BC Ministry Mental Health and Addictions. In her short speech, Minister Malcolmson recognized the impact serious mental illness can have on our community and emphasised the need to build a comprehensive system of care for mental health and addiction in BC. She applauded BCSS’ efforts in supporting families living with schizophrenia, and other serious mental illnesses, navigate the system.

The feature of the afternoon was a very informative session by Caitlin Lemiski, Director of Policy from the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC (OIPC). Ms. Lemiski provided information and resources on how individuals, families, and healthcare providers can better work together in supporting a person living with serious mental illness. She reviewed the fundamentals of the current privacy legislation in BC (i.e. the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FOIPPA/FIPPA) and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)), and shared useful details and resources available to families.

What’s the difference between Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FOIPPA/FIPPA) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)?

While FOIPPA is the privacy and access law that is applied to public bodies like the health authority, police departments, etc, PIPA is the privacy law that applies to any entity or body in the private sector like family doctors, GPs (general practitioners), clinical counsellors, psychiatrists, and other private organisations. BC is interestingly one of three provinces in Canada that has private sector privacy laws — laws that were created with the intent to protect individuals in a business setting — be used in health care setting. BC privacy legislation state that a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request are required to obtain necessary information from public bodies and private organisations. Under FOIPPA, a person is able to obtain information for themselves and a loved one with a FOI request. However, under PIPA, a FOI request can only be made for oneself. There are, however, other provisions under FOIPPA and PIPA that lets a person obtain the information needed to support a loved ones in crisis.

Ms. Lemiski also reiterated that family members can contact the privacy officer through each health authority, or reach out directly to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of BC with their issues and concerns at:

Watch the full video of this event here:

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