There are laws to protect people’s privacy. The laws apply to everyone. The courts recognize that everybody has a right to privacy whether they are at home, in the workplace, in the hospital, speaking with a lawyer, going to school, living in a care facility, working with social services or attending church.


You have the right to decide who knows information about you and no one can force you to answer questions or give information.


Personal Information is probably a lot more than you think it is. It includes personal descriptors like your name, age, place of birth, date of birth, gender, weight, height, eye color, hair color, and fingerprints.


Also included are identification numbers health IDs, social insurance numbers (SIN), PIN numbers, debit and credit card numbers are your personal property.


Your ethnicity race, colour, national or ethnic origin are private. Your health, physical or mental disabilities, family or individual health history, health records, blood type, DNA code, prescriptions. financial income, loan records, transactions, purchases and spending habits are all protected.


Employee files, employment history, evaluations, reference interviews, disciplinary actions have to be kept private by your employer. Credit records, credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity cannot be shared without your permission.


Criminal convictions, charges, pardons can only be released if you consent.  Life Character, general reputation, personal characteristics, social status, marital status, religion, political affiliations and beliefs/opinions and education history cannot be shared by anyone unless you say so.


Your right to request records and the protection of your personal information is laid out in two pieces of legislation:


The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”), which applies to more than 2,900 public bodies such as ministries, crown corporations, local governments, schools, hospitals, local police forces and governing bodies; and The Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”), which applies to more than 300,000 private organizations like corporations, non-profit societies, and professional associations.


In the public sector, FIPPA gives you the right to request records that contain your own personal information, as well as records such as reports, audits, and financial information of the public body.


In the private sector, PIPA gives you the right to request access to your own personal information in the custody or control of a private sector organization. Personal information can be information like your name, phone number, medical reports, relationships, address, or any other private reports that identify who you are.


For adults, they have the power to make the decisions about how their personal information is collected, used, and shared with others.


Sometimes, a family member or advocate of an adult has the power by law to make decisions about the person’s personal information. You should check to see if that is the case. If someone says they do, make sure you talk to a social worker, a lawyer or a legal advocate so this can be confirmed.


When you are in public, things are different. You have no right to privacy in a public place, because it is public. This includes social media like Facebook and Twitter. People can take your picture at a rally or public meeting and can tell others what you said there. They do not need your consent to show or tell others what you did in public. They do not need consent to copy your photos you put on line. All the law says is that they must be truthful about what you said or did.


Under the law, your doctor cannot give anyone your healthcare information without your knowledge and permission. This includes your parents. Doctors have a duty of confidentiality to their patients. They are required by law to keep patient information confidential except in specific situations. This duty of confidence applies to doctors no matter where they work: doctors in hospitals have the same duty as doctors in private practice. There are a few exceptions to this law regarding privacy and confidentiality. If you tell your doctor that you are planning to hurt yourself or planning to hurt someone else, then the doctor is required by law to tell someone and get you help. Except in these situations, your doctor cannot share your healthcare information without your permission in writing, by signing a form. Signing a release form is a choice; you never have to sign a release form.


Five Canadian provinces (B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador) allow individuals to sue other people for an invasion of their privacy. In other words, if someone starts snooping though your stuff you might be able to sue.  In order for the courts to accept the case, it would have to qualify as “highly offensive” such as intrusions into things like one’s financial or health records, sexual practices and orientation, employment, diary or private correspondence.


Your privacy is the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by each of us.

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