Toronto, May 26, 2015 – Ontarians expect their governments and broader public sector organizations to embrace new technologies for the effective and efficient delivery of programs and services. These technologies can be implemented in a way that will increase transparency, protect personal information, strengthen security and provide benefits for individuals and society. In his first annual report since becoming Commissioner, Brian Beamish expresses his support for the adoption of new tools and offers assistance to Ontario institutions to ensure privacy protection and compliance with the law.
In Charting a Course for the Future, the Commissioner examines the use of new technologies in programs being implemented across the province, such as electronic health records and body-worn cameras. He also recognizes the enormous possibilities and benefits of Open Government. The Commissioner offers three recommendations for the government to enhance the privacy of personal information and enable the public to access more government-held information:
1) Ontario will see enormous improvements in transparency and accountability as well as opportunities for innovation and economic growth if the recommendations of the Open Government Engagement Team’s Open By Default report are adopted quickly. We are calling on the government to proceed immediately with implementing the team’s recommendations.
2) The absence of a provincial legislated standard outlining what information may be disclosed in a police record check has left some police services free to routinely disclose non-conviction and non-criminal information. In some cases, these practices have had a damaging effect on the lives of individuals seeking employment or volunteer opportunities. We are pressing the government to enact a province-wide approach that will address these unfair impacts and provide individuals with a right of appeal.
3) To harness the enormous benefits of allowing multiple health providers to share electronic records, a new framework for privacy protection must be legislated. We are recommending that the government re-introduce the Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act to protect the privacy of patients and create a more effective health-care system.
“Many new technologies enable more open and accountable government, better health care, and improved security and safety for the citizens of our province. Our goal is to help government and the broader public sector to thoroughly address the access and privacy challenges posed by these new technologies up front to ensure that these goals are fulfilled.”
– Brian Beamish, Commissioner
Key statistics are below. Complete statistics on compliance rates, requests, appeals and privacy complaints are available at ipc.on.ca.
IPC 2014 Annual Report Statistical Highlights
- A new record of 60,036 freedom of information requests were filed, up eight per cent from 2013’s 55,760.
- The IPC closed 1,376 appeals in 2014, which included issuing 310 orders and mediating 737 appeals in full.
- The cost of personal information requests to provincial institutions fell by 26 per cent to an average cost of $4.47 per request.
- The Ministry of the Environment once again received more requests (7,683) than any other provincial institution. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services received the second most requests (5,678) and the Ministry of Community and Social Services was the only other provincial institution to receive more than 1,000 requests (2,940). Additionally, this ministry responded to another 2,974 access requests for personal information, arising out of unprecedented and unanticipated circumstances.
- The Toronto Police Service (TPS) topped the list of municipal institutions with 5,663 requests. Its 30-day compliance rate fell to 54.3 per cent.
- Most municipal institutions that received more than 1,000 requests were police services; however, the City of Toronto (2,822) and the City of Brampton (1,598) followed the TPS in most requests received.
- The IPC closed 276 privacy complaints under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and 399 Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) privacy complaints.
- New PHIPA complaints were up eight per cent, to a total of 439.
- This is the first year that the IPC is reporting PHIPA compliance statistics and, in total, 85,156 requests for personal health information were completed by organizations that are both health information custodians and institutions.