Data Privacy & Security| NB Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) | UNB

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Data privacy and security

We are a research data centre under the authority of New Brunswick laws, including the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RTIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act (PHIPAA). We also have an agreement with the province of New Brunswick to uphold policies and procedures to ensure that data in our custody is protected.

As a research data centre, we provide access to pseudonymous (i.e. de-identified) data sets and link personal information or personal health information for the purposes of research, analysis, and evidenced-informed decision-making.

Privacy and security policies

View our privacy and security policies.

Our responsibilities as a research data centre

We follow internationally recognized policies and best practices that include the 10 Privacy Principles. Throughout the following privacy principles, we outline the practices in place to protect data in our custody. If further clarification is needed on any of these topics, please contact our privacy officer.

The data sets provided to approved users are customized to fit the parameters of their data access request, but only after it has been approved through a thorough review process.


Our privacy officer works to ensure we follow our privacy policies, data privacy best practices, and are in compliance with the legislation by which we are bound; (PHIPAA) requires us to “protect personal health information by adopting information practices that include reasonable administrative, technical and physical safeguards that ensure the confidentiality, security, accuracy and integrity of the information.”

Identifying purposes

While we do not collect data, we ensure that data in our custody is only accessed by specific identified people for a pre-defined, approved purpose. A rationale must be provided for any variables accessed.

Limiting collection

Approved users can only access the minimum number of variables needed to answer their approved research question. All approved users are assigned a project folder in a secure environment that is limited only to the information for which they’ve been approved. Any changes to the approved data access request is subject to the amendment process which also must be approved before changes are implemented.

Limiting use, disclosure, and retention

Approved users can only access the data for the purposes approved in their data access request. More information can be found in our Data Retention, Destruction, and Restoration Policy.


As a research data center, we are subject to provincial requirements to ensure that data holdings are held securely and protected against the possibility of re-identification. As we are only permitted to hold pseudonymous (i.e. de-identified) data, it is impractical to seek consent directly from individuals. The rigorous policies we have in place demonstrate our commitment to protecting the personal privacy of every individual in our data holdings.


We work closely with data business owners to conduct thorough evaluations to ensure the data we securely house is appropriate for academic research. Many of our data holdings are updated annually to ensure approved users have the most current data available.


Safeguards are in place to ensure privacy is protected at every level. Our secure facilities house a stand-alone closed network with multiple physical and virtual firewalls. Our network is “moated”, meaning no unauthorized individuals can access our data holdings. All employees and researchers must sign confidentiality agreements and take NB-IRDT privacy training before accessing approved data. We also conduct regular privacy audits.


Information about our data holdings as well as the research projects that use these data are available on our website in summary form. We also have detailed information regarding the variables for many of our data holdings.

Individual access

Individuals interested in learning more about our data holdings can review the codebooks and variable lists. Because we do not hold identifiable data, we are unable to share data about any specific individuals. If you have concerns, please refer to the Access to Information Policy for more information.

Challenging Compliance

Any individual who wishes to raise a concern or learn more about our practices can contact us directly. There are also additional mechanisms in provincial privacy legislation for raising concerns.

Privacy questions

Data is considered pseudonymous when the personal identifiers (including names and addresses of the individuals who are the subject of the data) have been removed from the data records 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.

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 to inform public policy, assist in the management, evaluation or monitoring of resource allocations, government service planning or delivery of government services.

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. 

We provide a secure central location for researchers to access provincial administrative and clinical data sets.

By accessing this data, researchers support improvements to social policy by conducting evidence-based research that informs policy decisions affecting New Brunswickers.

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.

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.

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.

These researchers use these data to support improvements in healthcare, public policy, social progress and prosperity in New Brunswick.

We only permit access to researchers who have obtained approval through a thorough research project application and access approval 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)
  • a privacy officer

All applicants must also complete criminal record checks and enter into confidentiality agreements.

Data held on the NB-IRDT platform is received from various government departments and public bodies. Following the information protection practices found in legislation, only pseudonymous data may be received by NB-IRDT.

Data research 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.

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 reference guides on our website.

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 Secretary of the University of New Brunswick.

An individual may also contact the Office of the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner of New Brunswick.