Canadian Health Measures Survey Pre-test - Privacy impact assessment summary


Beginning in October 2006, Statistics Canada will conduct the Canadian Health Measures Survey. This new survey will collect information through self-reported data on health and direct physical measures from a representative sample of Canadians.

The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CMHS) Pre-test was conducted in Calgary, Alberta in the fall of 2004 in order to assist the development of this survey, including the identification and resolution of privacy and confidentiality issues unique to this survey.


A privacy impact assessment for the Canadian Health Measures Survey Pre-test was conducted to determine if there were any privacy, confidentiality and security issues associated with the survey, and if so, to make recommendations for their resolution or mitigation.


The Canadian Health Measures Survey will collect information that will help evaluate the extent of health problems among Canadians in such areas as chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes and cardiovascular disease), infectious diseases, lifestyle characteristics (e.g. physical activity and nutritional status) and environmental exposures. The survey will also provide a means to explore emerging public health issues and new measurement technologies.

As part of the data collection, respondents undergo a series of physical tests and are asked to provide tissue samples (blood and urine) that are subsequently sent to various medical laboratories under contract to Statistics Canada.

Because of the highly personal nature of the information being collected, tested and processed, the privacy impact assessment identified numerous potential privacy risks.


This assessment concluded that the privacy risks in the pre-test were either negligible or were such that Statistics Canada was able to manage the risk using either its existing safeguards or implementing additional safeguards, including those put in place at the South Calgary Health Centre and the reference laboratories.

As Statistics Canada continues to develop the Canadian Health Measures Survey, this privacy impact assessment will serve as an important model for an updated privacy impact assessment for the main survey.

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