Is the record dedicated primarily to the provision of service to the individual?

Service providers must ask themselves whether the record is dedicated primarily to the provision of service to the individual requesting access:

  • If so, the individual has a right of access to the entire record — subject to the exceptions previously noted — even if it incidentally contains information about other individuals and other matters.
  • If not, the individual only has a right to their own personal information that can reasonably be severed from the rest of the record.

 

A youth who was in the care of a children’s aid society wants to access their old service plan. The society reviews the plan, which contains limited personal information about the youth’s parents and former foster parent. Nevertheless, the society determines that the record is dedicated primarily to the provision of services to the youth.

After ensuring that none of the access exceptions apply to any information in the record (for example, there is no risk of serious harm to the parents, foster parents, or any individual), the society grants the youth full access to the record, without removing or redacting the personal information of the other individuals.

 

Determining whether a record is dedicated primarily to providing services to the individual is important because it dictates the access the individual has to a record. Deciding this issue under other legislation, the IPC has considered whether:

    • the provision of a service to the individual is central to the purpose for which the record exists
    • the record would exist “but for” the provision of a service to the individual
    • the record is qualitatively related to other matters, for example, legal advice
    • the record would typically be found in an individual’s file
    • the record contains information about many individuals to whom service has been provided (such as a schedule)
    • the record arises indirectly and several steps removed from the actual service experience97

It may not always be the case that every record filed under an individual’s name is dedicated primarily to providing services to that person. Determining whether a record is dedicated primarily to the provision of service to the person requesting access to it should be done on a record-by-record basis.

 

97. The IPC has not yet had occasion to consider this question under Part X of the CYFSA. Several IPC decisions under PHIPA, including PHIPA Decision 17, consider a similar provision in that act.