Highlights from the “Reaching Out to Ontario – Waterloo” event

Beamish and Emily Harris-McLeod

It was nice to meet a few of you at the recent “Reaching Out to Ontario” event presented on Friday, May 31, 2019 by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPCO) at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

The first half of the event was a presentation on Key Developments in Access to Information and Privacy delivered by Commissioner Brian Beamish and Assistant Commissioner David Goodis.

Highlights from the first session included:

  • Smart Cities: The Ministry of Government Services has just announced a need for additional privacy protections for Smart Cities.  Commissioner Beamish suggested it may be time for Ontario to institute a privacy law of its own for the private sector (as British Columbia has already done) rather than relying on the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
  • Data Analytics: There is a potential for discrimination based on flawed data analytics algorithms.
  • FIPPA Amendments: 2019 amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) allow for inter-governmental data transfers for the purpose of data analytics.  Personal Information contained in such data must be de-identified.
  • Mandatory Breach Reporting for Health Organizations: This has been in place since October 2017.  There were 506 reported breaches in 2018.  “Snooping” (i.e., accessing another individual’s information without a valid purpose) is a big concern, representing about half of the breaches.
  • Sale Of De-identified Medical Information: IPCO is currently investigating this practice and believes it may be contrary to law.
  • New FOI Guidance Documents
    • June 2018: Fee Estimates and Fee Waivers
    • September 2018: Third Party Information Exemption
    • January 2019: Resources for Schools
  • Recent FOI and Privacy Decisions
    • R. v. Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10: A teacher was caught recording female students’ chests surreptitiously.  In a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the teacher’s actions represented an illegal breach of the students’ privacy, with Chief Justice Wagner noting “privacy is not an all-or-nothing concept” (from paragraph 41 of the judgment).  In other words, it is incorrect to claim that students have an expectation of privacy only in certain spaces (such as washrooms) but no expectation of privacy in other spaces (such as in classrooms or in the hallways of their school).
    • Order MO-3607: Use of private email accounts to conduct government business.  It will be highly relevant to the IPCO adjudicator whether there is actually evidence that government business is being conducted through personal accounts; mere speculation by a requestor is generally not sufficient to obtain access to emails from a personal email account.
    • Order PO-3862: IPCO ordered out assisted death records which did not relate to any specific patient or case.
    • Order MO-3577: A consideration of negotiated vs. supplied information under section 17 of FIPPA (corresponding to s. 10 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act).  Information which has been “negotiated” with the institution tends to be disclosable, in contrast with information that has simply been “provided” to the institution in confidence whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause one of the harms enumerated in s.17/s.10.

In the second half of the event, I attended an introduction to the new Responsibilities under Part X of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act delivered by Commissioner Beamish and IPCO Senior Policy Advisor Emily Harris-McLeod.

Highlights from this session included:

  • Part X of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act will come into effect on January 1, 2020.  This new section of the Act establishes new rules for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information held by ministry-funded and licensed service providers.
  • These new rules include the provision of rights of access and correction of personal information for clients of Ontario’s child and youth sector service providers – similar to the existing rights of access and correction of personal information offered by FIPPA and MFIPPA.

A written summary of Part X has been published by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services here: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/childrensaid/part-x.aspx

Helpful videos on the new Responsibilities under Part X of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act have recently been posted on the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCff_vJ7GY4Q8gR-_oBKsaNA

I look forward to meeting more of you at a future session.

I encourage you to refer this article to a colleague, and to subscribe to the FOI Assist blog.  To subscribe, simply enter your email address at the bottom of the page then click the follow button.

Links to Resources:

Child, Youth and Family Services Act https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/17c14

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90f31

Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90m56

R. v. Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10 (Lexum) https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/17515/index.do

Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Decisions: https://decisions.ipc.on.ca/ipc-cipvp/en/nav.do

Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Guidance: https://www.ipc.on.ca/guidance-documents/

Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ written summary of Part X of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/childrensaid/part-x.aspx

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (YouTube channel): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCff_vJ7GY4Q8gR-_oBKsaNA 

 

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