- They have a lot of power under the law.
- Your right to confidentiality (privacy) is limited.
Social workers who investigate a report about your child's safety must follow certain confidentiality (privacy) rules. For example, they can't:
- tell you who made the report about you to the ministry
- give people they interview any information about you or your family
- give your name or other information about you to anyone who's not involved
- discuss your case with your advocate without your written permission
They're allowed to:
- share the information they gather with supervisors, other ministry team members, the police, and the ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency lawyer
- record all the information they gather and keep it in a computer file and a paper file
How to protect your privacy
The ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency might ask you to sign a release (or waiver) of confidentiality. This means you give permission to the ministry to do certain things and look at your private records.
The social worker might want to get personal information about you from your doctor, counsellor, therapist, or other professional person in your life. That person doesn't have to give the social worker your confidential information — unless the person the ministry asks has concerns about your child's safety. Or you signed a release of confidentiality saying they can give your personal information to the ministry.
A lawyer works for you under what's called lawyer-client confidentiality. This means your lawyer can't tell anyone about your conversations with them without your permission. You can feel comfortable about giving your lawyer information you don't want to give to anyone else.
Remember, child protection court proceedings are public, except when a judge closes the court to anyone not involved in the case. This doesn't happen often. When it does, it's usually because the judge is concerned about publicity that might hurt your child.
Your right to information in your ministry file
You and your lawyer have the right to see all the information the ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency has about your case. This includes all reports or letters written about the investigation.
- apply to get it under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
- contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC and ask them to help you get it