Personal Health Information Act

Custodians: What does PHIA mean to me?

The Personal Health Information Act came into force on June 1, 2013. The Act sets out some new rules for managing personal health information. This website is intended to help you make any changes needed to meet your obligations under the Act.

The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) governs the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information. The Act recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal health information and the need to collect, use and disclose personal health information to provide, support and manage health care.


PHIA brings more consistent privacy protection measures and enhances accountability for Nova Scotia’s health care system.

  • The legislation supports collaboration between health providers.

  • It supports consistent practices in the collection, use, disclosure and management of patient health information.

  • It mandates the development of information practices to better safeguard personal health information.

  • It allows information to be collected, used and disclosed to support and manage the health care system in Nova Scotia.

  • It provides a fee schedule for custodians in providing an individual’s access to his/her own personal health information.

  • Custodians under PHIA are subject to independent oversight by the provincial Review Officer.

  • PHIA is enforceable in the courts of Nova Scotia. Penalties may apply for offences under the Act.

The Department of Health and Wellness has developed a number of tools to help custodians and agents comply with PHIA.


PHIA Toolkit

The PHIA toolkit for custodians is designed to help custodians understand and meet their requirements under PHIA. It also includes a number of templates to assist you in developing policies or forms that are needed to comply with PHIA.

Below is the complete toolkit, as well as individual chapters if you should wish to reference an area of specific interest. The Department encourages each custodian to review the templates in the Toolkit and determine whether they may be useful to modify and use as they implement the Personal Health Information Act.

Toolkit Download the Complete Toolkit(PDF)

Read the Disclaimer and the Interpretation Note

Individual Chapters

Table of Contents

Toolkit Updates

  1. Complying with the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) (pdf)

  2. PHIA and PIPEDA (pdf)

  3. Duties of a Custodian (pdf)

  4. Consent, Capacity and Substitute Decision-Makers (pdf)

  5. Collection, Use and Disclosure (pdf)

  6. Access To and Correction of Personal Health Information (pdf)

  7. Research (pdf)

  8. Electronic information systems/Electronic health records (pdf)

  9. Complaints under PHIA (pdf)

  10. Templates

  11. The Review Officer, Reviews and Mediation (pdf)

  12. Offences and Penalties (pdf)


i. Template Table of Contents (pdf)
ii. Definitions (pdf)
iii. Resources (pdf)
iv. Regulated Health Professions (pdf)
v. PHIA Table of Contents (pdf)