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Handling Medical Information

Handling Medical Health Information: An in-depth training session for employers and unions

Medical issues frequently arise in the workplace and at arbitration that require employers and unions to deal with sensitive employee health information. In this practical session, specialists will provide guidance on getting the medical information you need and are entitled to obtain, while also respecting employee privacy. Topics to be addressed include:

  • Determining what information is necessary: What is the scope of medical information that an employer may require for a short-term absence from the workplace? Is a prescription pad note sufficient? How does the information required to justify a long-term absence, access to long-term disability benefits, or support an accommodation request differ from the information required to justify short absences?
  • Asking the right questions: What is the most effective way for unions and employers to request information from physicians? How specific should they be in their requests? What questions are likely to prompt physicians to provide useful information? What types of questions are likely to result in physicians providing vague information? Are standardized forms helpful? If so, which questions should be included on a standardized form, and which should be left out? What are some examples of doctors' notes that are too vague? If you receive a vague response, how should you request more specific information?
  • Consulting with health professionals and specialists: When do you need information from a specialist? For mental health issues, is information from a family doctor sufficient, or should you seek medical information from a psychiatrist or psychologist? Should the information supplied by physicians always be preferred over the information supplied by professionals who are not physicians? Are there particular types of questions that general practitioners are ill-equipped or reluctant to answer? What guidelines and/or professional rules guide physicians in providing information to employers and unions?
  • Handling employee medical information: Which company personnel are entitled to access an employee's personal health information? Are employers free to share an employee's medical information with the employee's union in order to facilitate accommodation? Are they required to do so? What should employers and unions do to protect confidentiality of medical information in their possession? What steps does provincial law require the employer to take to shield that information? What steps does federal law require? What right does an employee or other affected party have to view information in the possession of a doctor, the employer, the union, the insurer, a workers' compensation board, etc.? What disclosure exemptions are provided for by statute?
  • Using medical evidence at arbitration: What are the characteristics of persuasive medical evidence? What medical information must the grievor/union disclose to the employer during the grievance/arbitration process? If an employer has an occupational health department or other department that keeps records relating to an employee’s medical condition, what information must that department disclose prior to arbitration? Can parties redact medical information or records prior to producing this information to the other side? In what circumstances will an arbitrator order a grievor to submit to an independent medical exam (IME)? How should the physician be chosen? When must a physician attend an arbitration hearing to testify regarding a medical report? If a physician must attend to give evidence, who bears the cost?



E-mail Roshien Asanta or call (416) 977-6618 for more information. We can help to tailor a Customized Training package for you.

Sample Schedule

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.


9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

 PART 1  Overview of the Relevant Legislation

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

 SCENARIO 1  Table Group Discussion

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

 SCENARIO 1  Review and Discussion

  1. Determining what information is necessary

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

 SCENARIO 2  Table Group Discussion

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 SCENARIO 2  Review and Discussion

  1. Asking the right questions

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 SCENARIO 3  Table Group Discussion

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 SCENARIO 3  Review and Discussion

  1. Consulting with health professionals and specialists

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

 SCENARIO 4  Table Group Discussion

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

 SCENARIO 4  Review and Discussion

  1. Handling employee medical information

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 CONCLUSION  Final Discussion and Conclusion

  1. Using medical evidence at arbitration

Additional Information

Includes materials, with case summaries and analyses, prepared by Lancaster's legal staff.