A Halifax food bank that is asking its clients to disclose personal information before receiving assistance has caught the attention of Nova Scotia’s privacy commissioner.

In its new application form, Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank is asking clients to provide their health card number and birth date, as well as income history and household expenses.

“They have this whole list of things… and then say they want us to provide proof? It’s a little humiliating,” said long-time client and volunteer Helen Williams. “I refuse to give someone that much information about my life.”

Parker Street’s operations manager Kevin McKay told CTV Atlantic that the application form was introduced in response to an increase in clients – and concerns that some were abusing the service.

“The information people are concerned about is being stored carefully and securely,” he said.

But privacy commissioner Catherine Tully said collecting health card information is only permitted by health-care providers.

“Basically it should be, ‘We’re checking you’re eligible’ – and dispose all of the records that supported that finding of eligibility,” she said.

The Office of Information and Privacy does not have any direct oversight of charitable organizations or non-profits. 

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie