14 Discuss Tutor’s Legal Responsibilities for FIPPA, Human Rights and Harassment Issues
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
Welcome to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy web site. http://www.kpu.ca/foipop
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) became law on October 4, 1993. This web site provides information and guidance to quickly access FIPPA regulations, find out how to request access to records held by the university, and assist faculty, staff and administrators in protecting personal information held by the university.
Responsibilities and Rights
Everyone associated with Kwantlen Polytechnic University needs to have a basic understanding of FIPPA, including employees, learners, outside service providers and members of the public (all of whom may provide, collect, use or be asked to disclose private information) in their dealings with the university, in order to:
- Manage requests for information in compliance with KPU policy and the legislation, i.e.: when notified of a request, employees must not destroy any responsive records.
- Protect the privacy of learners and employees.
- Know what rights you have to access and correct records KPU may have about you.
- Manage learner and employee records in departments, i.e. to retain an individual’s information for at least one year if it is used to make a decision that directly affects the individual.
- Give the public access to KPU records following FIPPA’s informal and formal request procedures.
- Resolve complaints about possible unauthorized collection, use or disclosure of an individual’s personal information and inform them of their right to make a complaint with the BC Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner.
General Privacy Principles
Individuals own their own information and have a legal right to privacy protection.
- Treat learners as stakeholders in the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.
- Learners are loaning their personal information to Kwantlen Polytechnic University in exchange for services provided by the university. But in so doing learners do not cede ownership of their personal information.
- Learners are entitled to request and receive copies of any and all personal information in the possession of the university.
Public bodies may collect personal information which relates directly to, and is necessary for, an operating program or activity of the public body.
- Collect only the personal information necessary to provide the service.
- Share information on a need-to-know, rather than a want-to-know basis, and then only with authorized individuals who specifically need to know.
Information may only be used for the purpose for which it is collected.
- Additional consent is not required to use information for the purpose for which it was provided, intended and collected.
- Consent must be obtained to collect or use personal information for other purposes. Exception: Essential personal information may be shared without consent, provided it is absolutely necessary and in the interest of the learner or necessary to the functioning of the department. This may be the case with medical or mental conditions which impact a learner’s performance or which pose a health or safety risk to the learner or instructors. This is discretionary and must be carefully considered.
Public Interest Paramount: Protection of public health and safety overrides protection of privacy.
Issues of concern to the health and safety of learners, employees or others can and should be reported to appropriate authorities, even without the permission or consent of the individuals whose privacy rights are affected. For further information refer to: Practice Tool for Exercising Discretion: Emergency Disclosure of Personal Information by Universities, Colleges and other Educational Institutions published in 2008 by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
“The head of a public body must, without delay, disclose to the public, to an affected group of people or to an applicant, information about a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people.” Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Section 25.
- Tell learners what personal information is being collected and why. Rarely will information about SINs or marital status be needed.
- Seek written consent from learners in order to share personal information with others. This includes personal email addresses intended to encourage and enable learners and instructors to communicate. Learners must not be required to share personal information with classmates, and should be told they have the right to decline permission.
- Learners should be encouraged to use their KPU emails. If they prefer their own emails to communicate with instructors or learners they must provide written prior consent.
- Ask permission before passing along names of learners to potential employers or as volunteers.
- The university must obtain permission from each individual prior to sharing learner and graduate mailing lists to private companies peddling services.
- Instructors and program assistants may collect home phone numbers as it may be necessary to contact learners, concerning performance and assignments or absence from class but that information must be kept secure.
- Do not post identifying personal information in a public place such as a hallway or an office door. Grades should be given to learners individually in person or electronically via KPU email.
- A learner’s work should be returned only to the learner. Do not leave assignments, etc., to be picked up in a public space.
- Do not read out grades when handing back assignments.
- Do not collect social insurance numbers unless it is necessary. This may include paying a learner or a guest lecturer. Destroy the SIN number information once it is no longer needed. Ensure that destroyed records are disposed of in a secure manner, i.e. shredding.
- Do not disseminate irrelevant personal information such as marital status, unless it is relevant and then only on a need-to-know basis. Do not share such information with learners’ classmates.
- Where practical, prior consent should be obtained from the learner if it is necessary for the purpose of the program to share medical information – risk of infection, for example – about the learner on a need-to-know basis.
- Do not identify learners by name in minutes of meetings or other records intended for broad circulation.
- Always use passwords on computer-based records such as email.
- Store confidential information in a protected and secure location.
- Do not fax personal information unless absolutely necessary. If necessary, make certain that it will be received only by the appropriate individual. Never fax personal information to a facsimile machine shared by unauthorized individuals.
- Do not release personal information such as home phone numbers or addresses in public documents such as class yearbooks or on social media sites.
- A learner’s educational information, including whether he/she is currently enrolled, cannot be released. Refer all such inquiries to the Senior Records Manager in the Registrar’s office, 604.599.2027.
- Departments should not keep confidential personal information for longer than one year after the learner has left the program. Refer to KPU Records and Retention Schedule for guidance as to when a record may be destroyed.
Learners and Privacy
The following guidelines and principles are meant to assist employees in complying with the
BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) as it relates to learner personal information. As a public body KPU has a responsibility to comply with FOIPPA when collecting, using, disclosing and disposing of learner information. Please feel free to call or write the Manager, Information Access and Privacy with your questions
- Collecting Learner Information
(a) Collect only the information you require and have legal authority to acquire. Very seldom will this include age, marital status, SIN, etc. Informed consent is preferable even in relation to information that can be disclosed without consent.
(b) Be sure you clearly inform learners of your legal authority to collect personal information. It could be required or allowed by a specific act (University Act, Section 27) or fall under s.26 (c) of the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act ( “…information relates directly to and is necessary for an operating program or activity of the public body” i.e. Kwantlen Polytechnic University). Identify an officer or employee who can answer questions about the collection of the information.
(c) Learners have a right to review their information for accuracy and to request a correction of factual information.
(d) Learner information must be retained for at least one year when that information has been used to make a decision about the learner.
(e) You must ensure that the information is kept in a secure location and if you supervise others, they should be trained in their duty to hold personal information in confidence and to disclose only that information necessary to perform their duties. (See policy C.4 and G. 24).
- Using Learner Information
(a) Use the information only for the purpose for which it was collected. Instructors and program assistants may collect home phone numbers in order to carry out their duties, such as contacting absent learners or communicating information to learners about their performance or assignments. The use of a learner’s KPU email or Moodle is strongly encouraged as a first choice. If it is necessary to collect a SIN number for employment purposes, shred it when no longer needed.
(b) Do not share the information about a learner with anyone else unless the learner has signed a release form. There are limited circumstances when information may be shared without consent. If the supervisor in charge of your department is unsure as to whether disclosure is permissible, feel free to contact the Information and Privacy Coordinator for guidance.
(c) Using personal information for a purpose other than that for which it was collected:
- If learners decline to use their KPU email address you should ask for written permission for use of their personal email addresses.
- Ensure you have a learner’s written permission to share any personal information with your class, but refrain from asking to share phone numbers or addresses as this can put them at risk. They must be made aware of their right to refuse permission.
- Ensure you have a learner’s permission if you intend to give their contact information to potential employers or volunteer organizations.
- Businesses should not be given learner or graduate mailing lists without prior, individual consent from each learner.
(d) Respect learner privacy in class: do not reveal a learner’s grade.
(e) Personal information such as marital status should not be shared unless relevant, and then only on a need-to-know basis.
(f) Do not identify learners by name in departmental documents such as meeting minutes.
- Class Lists
Currently the class lists contain the learner phone number. Please ensure that if you decide to contact learners at home, it is for appropriate reasons – i.e. class attendance, etc. Inappropriate use includes business mail outs, requesting personal information, and social purposes.
- Learners’ Work
(a) If you need to review a learner’s work with a colleague (for a second opinion perhaps), remove the name and any personal identifiers from the work. Be especially careful with highly personal information and opinions contained in assignments such as diaries, journals and portfolios.
(b) A learner’s work should be returned only to the learner. Do not leave assignments, etc. to be picked up in a public place.
- Learner Grades
There are two options:
(a) Give out grades individually to learners in class.
(b) Post a list in random learner number order with assigned grade. Allow the learners to advise you if they do not wish their number and their grade posted. It is suggested that you append a notice to your course syllabus.
“Grades: for your convenience, learner grades by random learner number will be posted in the department. If you do not wish to be included, please advise me in writing before the end of this month.”
- Access to Learner Databases
Employees are permitted access to Banner if they require the data in the course of their normal job responsibilities. Information contained in Banner is to be shared only with similarly authorized employees and only in connection with authorized job responsibilities. All data and reports must be maintained in a secure and confidential manner.
- Research and Statistical Analysis
There are limited provisions in the Act for disclosing personal information for research or statistical purposes. Please contact the Registrar (604-599-2018).
- General Inquiries
A learner’s educational information, including whether he/she is currently enrolled, cannot be released to a third party without the learner’s consent or some legal authority. If in doubt call the Registrar (604-599-2018).
Principles to keep in mind…
- Learners have a right to privacy protection under the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act. They “loan” their personal information to Kwantlen Polytechnic University but they still own their own information and may request and receive copies of any personal information possessed by the university.
- Public bodies such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University may collect personal information, but only that which “relates directly to and is necessary for an operating program or activity of the public body”. Sharing of this information should only be with those who specifically need to know.
- Personal information may only be used for the purpose for which it is collected and consent must be obtained for any other use. However, an exception occurs if it is necessary and in the interest of the learner, as may occur with medical or mental conditions that impact learner performance or pose a health or safety risk to the learner or others. If you have any concerns in this area, please contact the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office.
- Protection of public health and safety overrides protection of privacy. Where there are compelling circumstances that threaten to lead to harm to the health or safety of a large number of people, the public body has a duty to disclose information, without regard to personal privacy.
- Store confidential information in secure files. FOIPPA requires public bodies employ reasonable security arrangements in the protection of personal information. This has been interpreted to mean that that files containing sensitive information must be put away and cabinets and doors locked when a room is unoccupied, digital information must be guarded with great care and encrypted if contained in mobile devices (flash drives, mobile phones, laptops…) and continuous backup and periodic purging must be performed by the IT dept.
- Faxing of personal information should be avoided. If this is necessary, ensure only the authorized recipient will handle it.
- Public documents should not include learners’ personal information.
- A learner’s educational information cannot be released, including whether the learner is currently enrolled.
- Practice good records management, storing documents according to the guidelines in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Directory of Records and disposing of them in a secure manner especially when the records contain sensitive personal information.
|May Ask or Record||Should not Ask or Record|
Human Rights in Canada
In Canada, human rights are protected by federal, provincial, and territorial laws. The Canadian government has made many provisions to protect human rights, including legislation such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the establishment of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Each province has human rights laws and legislation (Canadian Human Rights Commission).
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. Every Canadian is guaranteed of certain rights and freedoms such as:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom)
As a tutor, you need to be mindful of the ideas and beliefs of the diverse population you are helping. Some of these beliefs may not be the same as the cultural, religious, racial, political, economic or social systems that you have been exposed to. Some of the work that learners bring you will also expose you to other points of view or arguments that may cause you to question your own perspectives. This is one of the challenges of tutoring. Keep vigilant, then about how you may influence the conversations when tutoring so that any work a learner brings in is their work and needs to maintain their ownership.
Under the Human Rights Act you too are protected. If you ever feel that your rights or freedoms have been violated, speak with your supervisor or address your concerns with your learner directly. Most post-secondary institutions have rights and responsibility guidelines for learners and these are outlined in the University Calendar. If you are unsure of yours, ask your tutoring supervisor, learner judicial affairs officer, or ombudsperson for information. Each province has its own human rights legislation. Schools, including post-secondary institutions are covered under these laws. To get more information: British Columbia: http://www.bchrc.gov.bc.ca
Discrimination and Harassment
All provinces and territories have legislation which prohibits discrimination in their jurisdiction. The Canadian Human Rights Act extends the provincial and territorial laws in Canada that forbid acts of discrimination. The Canadian Human Rights Act (1985) is based on the principle that all individuals should have opportunities that are equal with other individuals, as follows (Canadian Human Rights Act, 1985 Section 1).
The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.
R.S., 1985, c. H-6, s. 2; 1996, c. 14, s. 1; 1998, c. 9, s. 9; 2012, c. 1, s. 137(E).
The Canadian Human Rights Act and all other anti-discrimination legislation gives each us of an equal opportunity to work and live without being subjected to discrimination. We are all protected by these federal, provincial, and territorial laws.
We also have a duty to accommodate and an obligation to take steps to eliminate different and negative treatment of individuals, or groups of individuals based on prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The duty to accommodate means that sometimes it is necessary to treat someone differently in order to be fair and to ensure full participation of a person or group.
We all need to treat tutees with the respect and dignity – without discrimination or intent to harass. Consequently, as a tutor, you must always be conscious of how you treat each learner and what you say in your tutoring sessions. Your personal conduct and appearance is also important. Although you may not think that what you say or do can be considered discriminating or harassing, you might want to consider what message the tutee/learner might be receiving. Could the joke you just told be considered inappropriate? Were you sitting too close to them for their comfort? Was how you were dressed appropriate? Even though you might not think that what you say, wear, do, etc. is okay, step back and think about the tutee.
Harassment is a form of discrimination that involves any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates a person. Incidents such as jokes or remarks about your age, colour of skin, etc. (anything in the above list) can be considered as harassment. Threats or intimidation also fall under the harassment category.
Any unwelcomed touching such as patting, touching, pinching or punching can be considered as assault which is illegal under the Criminal Code (1985) which is Federal legislation. Again, provinces and territories have legislation very similar to the federal human rights act. When in doubt, you can refer to your provincial / territorial agency. The links for these are below:
Provincial and Territorial Human Rights Agencies
Best Behaviours Activity:
Brainstorm behaviours that you do as a tutor to avoid the appearance as well as the reality of harassment.