How to get help if someone reports you to the ministry
Ministry of Children and Family Development staff must follow certain rules of confidentiality (privacy). For example, ministry staff can't:
- tell you who made a report about you,
- give people they interview any information about you and your family,
- give your name or information about you to anyone not involved, or
- discuss your case with your advocate without your written permission.
On the other hand, ministry staff investigating a report of abuse are allowed to:
- share the information they gather with supervisors, child protection consultants, other ministry team members, the police, and the ministry lawyer, and
- record information gathered and keep it in a computer and a paper file.
How to protect your privacy
In some circumstances, the ministry might ask you to sign a release or a waiver of confidentiality.
Before you sign a release, you should understand clearly what you're allowing someone to do on your behalf, or what private documents you're allowing someone to look at.
- If you have a lawyer, ask your lawyer's advice about signing a release. See how to get a lawyer.
- If you don't have a lawyer and aren't sure what to do, get advice from an advocate or family duty counsel (free lawyers available at most courthouses) about whether or not to sign.
A lawyer representing you in dealings with the ministry is bound by lawyer-client confidentiality. This means that your lawyer can't tell anyone about your conversations with him or her without your permission. You can feel comfortable about giving your lawyer information that you don't want to give to anyone else.
The ministry may also want personal information from your therapist or doctor. Neither should give the ministry confidential information about you, unless either have concerns about your children's safety or you have signed a release.
Your rights to information in your ministry file
If the report about you becomes a court proceeding between you and the ministry, you and your lawyer have the right to see all the information the ministry has about your case. This includes all reports or letters written about the investigation.
Remember that court proceedings are public except on the rare occasion when a judge closes the court. This is usually done because of concerns that publicity could hurt the child.
Whether or not you go to court, you may get a copy of the information in your ministry file. You can apply to get this information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
For more information about how to get the information in your file, call the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia:
Or call Service BC and ask to be transferred to 250-387-5629:
1-800-663-7867 (call no charge elsewhere in BC)
Back to: Previous