Welcome to the Freedom of Information web page. The following information is provided to promote understanding and awareness of the Board’s access and privacy practices in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Privacy Act (PHIPA).
You are invited to direct any questions related to privacy issues, Freedom of Information requests and/or any comments related to this site to:
Bonnie Williams, Supervisor - Corporate Services and
Freedom of Information Coordinator
Thames Valley District School Board
1250 Dundas Street, London, Ontario N6A 5L1
By telephone at 519-452-2000 ext. 20218
Fax 452-2256 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
MUNICIPAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT (MFIPPA)
The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, passed in 1989, gives everyone a legal right to access public records and to expect protection of their personal records in the care of public institutions. The Act, in its entirety, may be accessed through the Information Privacy Commission website at:
School boards collect, use and disseminate personal information from, and about, individuals in the course of providing educational services and to administer programs in accordance with the Education Act. If a disclosure is refused, the Act provides an appeal mechanism to the IPC where the Privacy Commissioner has the power to direct disclosure where she deems it appropriate.
MFIPPA regulates the way personal information is administered to protect each individual’s right to privacy. When responding to requests for personal information, it is necessary for the Board to balance the right of access with the right of privacy. This balancing act is complex by the structure of the legislation which sets out numerous exceptions and often, exceptions to those exceptions. The Board is careful to obtain the necessary approvals to disclose personal information and to provide the legislated authority when it is collected.
The Board’s policy, approved on March 23, 2004, identifies the Director of Education as the Freedom of Information (FOI) Head and the Supervisor-Corporate Services as the FOI Co-ordinator. The policy can be accessed on the Board’s website here.
Making a Request
In accordance with the Act, requests for information must be made in writing and include sufficient detail to enable staff to identify the record. All requests are kept in the strictest confidence and every effort is made to complete them within 30 days of the date of receipt.
If the request cannot be completed, you will be notified if:
If you are making a request to access your personal information, the following fees apply:
If you are accessing a record, the following fees apply:
An estimate will be given for any requests estimated to be over $25.00. If it is $100.00 or more, a deposit of 50% is required before the request is processed. All fees are payable before the requested records are provided.
Some Important Definitions
"Personal Information "
Personal information is defined as the following under Section 2 (1)-
It does not include personal information about a person who has been dead for 30 years or more.
A record is defined as:
It does not include records containing advice or recommendations that are more than 20 years old.
Personal information is to be used or disclosed only for the purpose for which it was collected and for which the individual might reasonably expect it to be used or disclosed. Information may be disclosed to an employee of the Board who needs the records in the performance of their duties, for example in preparing the guest list for the Board’s Annual Retirement Reception. Student information, such as the full name and photograph, may be included in the school yearbook but may not be provided to the media without the parent’s/guardian’s consent or from a student who is over the age of 18.
Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)
The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), as the name suggests, is designed to allow individuals to have greater control of their personal health information, specifically how it is collected, used and disclosed to others. Where there is a conflict between PHIPA and other legislation, PHIPA prevails.
The legislation balances individuals' right to privacy with respect to their own personal health information with the legitimate needs of persons and organizations who provide health care services to access and share this information. It sets out rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information which apply to all "Health Information Custodians" (see "Important Definitions" below for a description of this role) operating within the province of Ontario and to individuals and organizations who receive personal health information from those authorized to collect and use it. The rules recognize the unique character of personal health information as one of the most sensitive types of personal information that is frequently shared.
With limited exceptions, the legislation requires health information custodians to obtain consent before they collect, use or disclose personal health information. They must take reasonable steps to safeguard and protect personal health information and ensure that medical records are retained, stored, transferred and disposed of in a safe and secure manner. Health Information Custodians are required to notify an individual if his/her personal information is lost, stolen or accessed by an unauthorized individual or organization.
The Personal Health Information Protection Act and pertinent resources may be accessed through the Information Privacy Commission website at www.ipc.on.ca
Consent is required for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information relating to any student of the Thames Valley District School Board. It must be a consent of the person, be knowledgeable, related to the information, and not be obtained through deception or coercion.
Consent is considered to be "knowledgeable" if the person knows what information is being collected, how it will be used, where and for how long it will be stored, under what circumstances will it be disclosed, for what period of time the consent is valid and how it can be withdrawn.
The Act is clear that a capable person, regardless of age, may consent to the collection, use and disclosure of his/her personal health information. In other words, where a person has the ability to understand the information that is relevant to deciding whether to consent, and has the ability to appreciate reasonable consequences of giving, not giving, or withdrawing consent, that person is the one from whom consent is sought. However, it is still prudent to obtain written, informed consent from the parents/legal guardians of a student, particularly those under the age of 16.
Others may also consent on that person's behalf (for example, anyone over the age of 16 that the person has authorized to act on his/her behalf, a parent if the person is under the age of 16, or a substitute decision-maker if the person is incapable of consenting (as determined by a Consent and capacity Board).
PHIPA requires that the Board provide written information describing the practices of the Health Information Custodian. The brochure is available at www.tvdsb.on.ca/Welcome/Freedom of Information/PHIPA brochure.
Access to Records
The legislation also sets out a formal procedure for individuals seeking access to their personal information or that of their child, subject to limited exceptions, and for requesting correction of that information. The Board must respond no later than 30 days after receiving a written request for access although an individual may also be granted access to a record based on a verbal request without a formal, written access request being completed.
It is important to note that the Act exempts assessment information collected through the use of published test instruments from the accessible part of a personal health information record.
As the Thames Valley District School Board is not a Health Information Custodian but falls under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, all formal requests for access to personal health information should be forwarded to the Board's Freedom of Information Co-ordinator who will record and forward them to the appropriate health information custodian.
Correction of Records
Parents may request that a correction be made to their child's record. The custodian of the health information is required to correct the record where the person demonstrates that the record is incomplete or inaccurate. This person is not required to correct a professional opinion, an observation made in good faith or a record that was not originally created by the Health Information Custodian where s/he has insufficient knowledge or authority to make the correction.
If Health Information Custodian refuses to make a correction, s/he must inform the requester of the refusal, provide reasons, and inform him/her of the right to appeal the refusal or the right to attach a statement of disagreement.
"Personal Health Information"
Personal health information includes identifying information about an individual in verbal or recorded form that relates to his/her physical or mental health (among other definitions).
Health care is defined as any observation, examination, assessment, care, service, or procedure that is done for a health-related purpose and that is provided to treat or maintain an individual's physical or mental condition, prevent disease or injury, or to promote health. Thames Valley's Student Services staff fall within this definition.
"Health Information Custodian"
The legislation applies to all health care practitioners, including those defined under the Regulated Health Professions Act (psychologists, psychological associates, and speech-language pathologists), members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (social workers and attendance counselors), and those people "whose primary function is to provide health care for payment" (child and youth counselors, communication disorder assistants. In other words, all non-teaching Student Services staff of the Thames Valley District School Board are considered to be Health Information Custodians as defined by the Act.
District school boards, teachers and other employees within the Board are considered "agents" regarding the use of health information. An agent is a person who, with the authorization of the Health Information Custodian, acts for, or on their behalf.
Agents are not permitted to collect, use or disclose personal health information unless permitted to do so by the Custodian. For example, teachers may not collect psychological information about a student, use that information or disclose it to anyone without the permission of a health information custodian.
December 02, 2008