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Does Ontario privacy legislation permit the disclosure of personal information in an emergency?

Privacy legislation in Ontario does not prevent the rapid sharing of personal information in certain situations. While personal information is protected by Ontario’s privacy and access laws, it is important to recognize that these protections are not intended to stand in the way of the disclosure of vital – and in some cases, life-saving – information in emergency or critical situations affecting individuals or public health and safety, as well as in situations calling for compassion.

For specific circumstances where such disclosures are permitted under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and Personal Health Information Protection Act, please refer to Fact Sheet #07 - Disclosure of Information Permitted in Emergency or other Urgent Circumstances. As well, to assist decision-makers faced with deciding whether to release a student’s personal information without consent in emergency circumstances refer to the Practice Tool for Exercising Discretion: Emergency Disclosure of Personal Information by Universities, Colleges and other Educational Institutions, developed by the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Ontario and British Columbia.

Does Ontario privacy legislation permit the disclosure of personal information about a deceased individual?

Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and Personal Health Information Protection Act all contain provisions that permit the disclosure of personal information about a deceased individual in certain circumstances. Please refer to Fact Sheet #15 - Obtaining Personal Health Information About a Deceased Relative for further information.
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