- Download the Guide
- Ontario’s Access and Privacy Legislation
- Collecting personal information
- Are school boards limited in the amount or kind of personal information they may collect?
- Does a school board need consent to collect personal information about a student?
- When can a school board collect personal information indirectly?
- Does a school board need to give notice that it is collecting personal information?
- What are the rules for collecting, using, disclosing and requiring the production of Ontario Education Numbers?
- Using and disclosing personal information
- Consent to collect, use and disclose personal information
- Safeguarding and retaining information
- Access to information
- How do students and parents access personal information?
- Do individuals have a right to access general records from a school board?
- Do students need to reach a certain age before they can exercise their access rights?
- How does a child’s age affect the parent’s right of access to personal information?
- Do non-custodial parents have a right to access a child’s school records?
- Correction of Personal Information
- Special Topics
Ontario’s Access and Privacy Legislation
What legislation applies to the privacy of, and access to, students’ personal information?
The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)
MFIPPA sets out the rules that school boards and other municipal institutions must follow regarding the collection, use, retention and disclosure of personal information.1 MFIPPA also establishes a right for individuals to access and request corrections to their personal information, as well as to access general records held by school boards.
While the focus of this guide is on access to and privacy of students’ personal information, it is important to note that the rights and obligations set out in MFIPPA apply to any individual’s personal information. For example, where a school collects, uses or discloses information about a student’s parents, it must protect the privacy of this information.
The Education Act
The Education Act is the main law under which schools and school boards operate. It governs how education is delivered to students in Ontario’s publicly funded school system.2 The Education Act contains a number of sections relevant to access and privacy, including rules about access to and the collection, use and disclosure of information contained in the Ontario Student Record (OSR).
MFIPPA and the Education Act are the two main laws that guide access to information and privacy in Ontario’s public and separate schools. This guide also references other pieces of legislation, such as the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These laws also permit or require school boards to disclose limited personal information about students in certain situations. PHIPA sets out the rules for collection, use and disclosure of health information, and may apply when students receive health care in school, such as from a school psychologist or speech-language pathologist (See Collection, use and disclosure of health information).
1. Provincial and demonstration schools operated by the Ministry of Education, and the ministry itself, are governed by the provincial equivalent of MFIPPA, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). These two acts are very similar in terms of the rights and obligations they create. While references in this guide are to MFIPPA, in all cases similar provisions are found in FIPPA.
2. Private schools are not subject to either MFIPPA or FIPPA. Some private schools are covered by a federal privacy law called the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which governs how private sector organizations collect, use and disclose personal information in the course of commercial activity. More information is available from the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (www.priv.gc.ca), which has oversight over PIPEDA.
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