Your privacy rights

Privacy is a fundamental right of every Ontarian. In order to protect that right, Ontario public institutions are required by law to protect your personal information, and to follow strict rules when collecting, using and disclosing your personal information.

The IPC’s role is to ensure that Ontario public institutions and health information custodians abide by privacy laws and principles.  The IPC also assists you with resolving privacy complaints and has broader powers to investigate and research privacy issues.

In Ontario, public organizations are governed by the following access and privacy laws:

These acts help to protect your personal information held by Ontario public institutions.

What is my personal information?

“Personal information” means recorded information about you as an individual. It may include your name, address, sex, age, education, and medical or employment history. It can also include identifying numbers such as a Social Insurance Number, and your personal views or opinions.  Information that may seem personal, such as name and contact information, may not be your personal information if that information relates to your business activities, that is, you are acting in a professional capacity in the context of the information.

Why do Ontario institutions collect my personal information?

Ontario public institutions may collect your personal information in order to provide services to you.

For example, you may be asked to provide personal information when you fill out an application for programs or services, such as:

  • a driver's licence
  • a recreation program
  • a building permit
  • tax benefits
  • school or university

In addition, institutions may indirectly collect your personal information.  An application form that requires an individual to provide personal information about his or her spouse, children or someone else is a common example of an indirect collection.

For privacy concerns pertaining to information held by the federal government or private sector institutions, please contact the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner.

Is my personal information protected?

Ontario public institutions must protect your personal information in their possession. You have the right to expect that your personal information will only be collected for legitimate, limited and specific purposes, that the collection of your personal information will be limited to only what is necessary for the specified purpose and that your personal information will only be used and disclosed for specified purposes.

An Ontario public institution must tell you:

  • under what legal authority they collect your personal information
  • how it intends to use the information it collects
  • who can answer any questions you may have about how your personal information will be used
Do I have the right to see my personal information?

In most circumstances, you have the right to see your personal information held by an Ontario institution. Learn how to request your personal information.

Do I have the right to correct my information?

If you find that personal information about you held by an institution is incorrect, you have the right to ask for a correction. Learn how to ask for a correction.

I believe my personal information has been mismanaged. Can I make a complaint?

Yes, if you feel there is a problem with the way your personal information is being handled, you can file a complaint. Learn how to file a complaint.

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  • For more information about this tool, please see our Privacy Policy.