During 2002, a group of fundraisers, representing such organizations as APRA, AFP, AHP and CCAE, worked with the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services to develop legislation that would strike the right balance between privacy and the use of personal information in pursuit of philanthropic activities.
Our group was invited to participate actively in the process of producing draft legislation and we were invited to view the final draft before it was to be introduced in the Legislature in the fall of 2002. Members of the group also made presentations to key individuals, including the Ontario Premier's Chief of Staff, the CEO of Ontario SuperBuild and the Minister of Consumer and Business Services, whose ministry was responsible for the legislation.
All indications to stakeholders were positive for introduction of the bill before the end of 2002. However, as many of you will know, this did not occur. A very busy fall agenda was sited as the reason for failure to introduce the bill before the Legislature rose in December. The Legislature does not sit again until March, at which time, it is widely believed that an election will be called. If this is the case, it is likely there will be further delays in introduction.
At a recent breakfast meeting, Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, opined that there would be introduction of the bill before the end of 2003, but likely not until the fall. This does not give stakeholders much time to comply and the January 1, 2004 deadline for federal jurisdiction will be just around the corner by that time.
Stakeholders are being advised to prepare themselves for the introduction of personal privacy legislation in some shape or form. At the minimum, organizations should be reviewing the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Model Code and its 10 key principles. The Code is attached as a schedule to the federal act (known as PIPEDA) and any provincial legislation will have to have these principles imbedded in it. The 10 principles are available for viewing.
The not-for-profit group, mentioned above, continues to meet and discuss the current status in Ontario. We are hoping to get some guidance once the Legislature sits again in March.
In the meantime, we urge you to visit the website for the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner and review the links and tools available to you and your organization. In particular, you should view the slide show from the Commissioner's most recent talk at the Toronto Board of Trade (found under the "Announcements" section).
Check the APRA-Canada website frequently to get updates on that status in, not only Ontario, but British Columbia and Alberta.
Newest update on the Ontario legislation (March 2006)
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) will apply to Ontario Universities as of June 10, 2006. The following information is provided for general information only, and should not be taken as the definitive statement of the contents of the legislation. FIPPA supports an open, accessible and responsible university structure, based upon the following five principles:
- The public has the right to access information in records under the custody and control of the University (with some specific exceptions).
- Individuals have the right of access to personal information about themselves (again, with limited and specific exceptions).
- Individuals have the right to request correction of their personal information
- Personal information is protected from unauthorized collection, use and disclosure
- Decisions (by the University) are subject to independent review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) who has broad powers under the Act.
An important university-specific amendment is the ability to use and disclose some alumni personal information for fundraising purposes, albeit with obligations to give notice in specific ways.
An amendment to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act (a separate Act from FIPPA) says that "an educational institution may collect information about identifiable individuals from published or public sources for the purpose of its own fundraising activities, if the information is reasonably necessary for the fundraising activities." This will also come info effect in June 2006.
Update March 2005
Presently, within the Ontario government, discussions are taking place on the inclusion and treatment of fundraising by universities under future provincial privacy legislation. Efforts are being made to ensure that the right of a university to use and collect personal information (including information from the public domain) in its alumni records for the purpose of its own fundraising activities is recognized and protected.
Draft legislation could be tabled in Ontario in spring 2005. APRA-C will continue to keep members up to date on this matter, and stands ready to respond to legislation and speak to information needs of Universities with respect to fundraising in any proposed amendments.