What information may be disclosed in an emergency? 

Ontario’s access and privacy laws do not stand in the way of the disclosure of vital information in urgent situations. In emergency and other limited circumstances, school boards can – and, in some cases, must – disclose information that would normally be protected by MFIPPA.

When compelling circumstances pose a threat to the health or safety of an individual, a school board may disclose personal information, and consent is not required.43 MFIPPA requires that the individual whose information was disclosed be notified of the disclosure.

School boards should consider all the circumstances before determining whether personal information will be disclosed, including whether the disclosure is necessary to address the threat to health or safety.

An eighteen-year-old student opens up to her teacher about plans to seriously harm herself, but instructs the teacher not to tell anyone else. The teacher consults with the principal and school psychologist. After carefully considering the situation – including the level of risk and degree of urgency – and weighing various options for responding, they decide to immediately disclose the information to the student’s parents.

This type of disclosure is permitted under MFIPPA, which allows for disclosure without consent in compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual.

A school board must disclose records to the public or affected individuals if there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that it is in the public interest to do so, and the record reveals a grave environmental, health or safety hazard to the public.44 This requirement could apply, for example, where a bomb threat or armed individual posed an active threat to students and teachers. Before disclosure in such cases, notice should be given to the individual whose information is to be disclosed only if it is feasible to do so.45 In these types of situations, privacy should never be seen as a barrier to protecting safety.


43. MFIPPA, s. 32(h)
44 MFIPPA, s. 5(1)
45 MFIPPA, s. 5(2)