Frequently Asked Privacy Questions

What is pseudonymous data?

Data is considered pseudonymous when the personal identifiers (including names and addresses of the individuals who are the subject of the data) and any unique identifying numbers (including Medicare number) of the individuals who are the subject of the data have been removed or encrypted. NB-IRDT receives and holds only pseudonymous data.


Why is NB-IRDT able to access personal information?

NB-IRDT is a designated research data centre that has entered into a signed agreement with the province of New Brunswick under the New Brunswick Personal Health Information Protection and Access Act (PHIPAA). As a research data centre, our purpose is to make data available for research in a secure environment to conduct evidence-based research which can be used to inform public policy, assist in the management, evaluation or monitoring of resource allocations, government service planning or delivery of government services.


How does NB-IRDT protect my privacy?

We use physical, technical and administrative safeguards to protect the information held in our custody. The information is held in a highly secure facility and cannot be accessed from outside our labs. NB-IRDT does not hold data with direct personal identifiers such as names, addresses or Medicare numbers. Researchers who wish to access these data must go through a rigorous application process to ensure that every New Brunswicker’s privacy is protected.


How does using these data for research purposes support improvements in social policy?

We provide a secure central location for researchers to access to administrative data from New Brunswick. By accessing these data, researchers support improvements to social policy by conducting evidence-based research that informs policy decisions affecting New Brunswickers.


Can I be identified?

No, before we receive any personal information, all direct personal identifiers, such as names, addresses and Medicare numbers, are removed from the data. After completing a research project, mechanisms are in place for vetting the research results to ensure there is no residual or inadvertent disclosure of identifiable personal information.


Will I ever be contacted?

No, NB-IRDT will not contact individuals. We do not hold information that could directly identify a person, which means that individuals cannot be contacted.


How does NB-IRDT use my information?

NB-IRDT was created to facilitate policy-relevant research to support informed and effective government decision-making. As a data research centre, we provide researchers with access to pseudonymous personal level administrative data in a secure, controlled environment, while protecting the personal privacy of New Brunswickers. Researchers use these data to support improvements in healthcare, public policy, social progress and prosperity in New Brunswick.


How do researchers access information held by NB-IRDT?

We only permit access to researchers who have obtained approval through a thorough data access application process. This thorough process requires researchers to submit detailed research proposals that are reviewed by: the Data and Research Committee, the UNB Fredericton Research Ethics Board, a scientific peer (on request) and a privacy officer. All applicants must also complete criminal record checks and enter into confidentiality agreements.


Where does NB-IRDT get information?

Data held on the NB-IRDT platform is received from various provincial and federal government departments, bodies, agencies, not for profits and researchers . Following the information protection practices found in legislation, only pseudonymous data may be received by NB-IRDT.


Are there similar research data centres elsewhere in Canada?

Research data centres exist in most Canadian provinces, such as Health Data Nova Scotia, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario and Population Data BC. Our governance structure, management, oversight and operations are based in part on the very successful Manitoba Centre for Health Policy with modifications to reflect New Brunswick legislation, regulation and data characteristics. A similar national resource would be the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) which provides access to Statistics Canada’s administrative data.


How can I find out what information NB-IRDT has about me?

You can gain a better understanding of what type of pseudonymous information NB-IRDT may hold about you by knowing your own personal history and reviewing our data set holdings and codebooks.


To whom can I raise a concern or make a complaint?

Everyone has the right to raise questions or concerns about the use and protection of personal information as per provincial legislation. Concerns regarding the collection or use of data at NB-IRDT may be raised with the NB-IRDT Privacy Officer or with the University of New Brunswick Secretiat. An individual may also contact the Office of the Ombud for New Brunswick.


Still have questions?

Please contact us.