2010 Annual Report cites benchmark ruling to lower costs for
Ontarians to access their own health records
TORONTO, May 17 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner,
Dr. Ann Cavoukian, today issued a challenge for public organizations to
"Be Proactive" with access and privacy initiatives, as she released her
2010 Annual Report.
Her call to action follows a year in which more Freedom of Information
(FOI) requests were filed with government organizations in Ontario than
ever before. In 2010, the Commissioner's office (IPC) also posted a new
record for the number of privacy complaints closed.
The Commissioner's core concepts of Privacy by Design (PbD) and Access by Design (AbD) provide guiding principles for embedding default privacy and access
within processes and technologies from the outset - avoiding many of
the inefficiencies, costs and "harm" related to privacy breaches and
requests for government-held information.
Rolling back fees for access to Ontarians' health records
Within her Annual Report, the Commissioner also stressed the importance
of a benchmark ruling from her office in 2010. Following an Ontario
citizen's complaint, a medical professional was ordered to
significantly reduce a charge for access to health records. This
followed an IPC review of fee structures in order to determine
"reasonable cost recovery" - the amount that health care providers are
permitted to charge.
"We have consistently urged the government to bring in a regulation that
would set specific fees that health care providers can charge
individuals," says Commissioner Cavoukian. "The fees vary dramatically
across the health sector, and my office has received numerous
complaints about excessive fees. This health order will now serve as a
solid benchmark for decisions from my Office, until a regulation is
Celebrating Innovation in Privacy and Access
The Commissioner's Privacy by Design approach was officially centre-stage in 2010, as her made-in-Ontario
solution was adopted as an "essential component of fundamental privacy
protection" by International Data Protection Commissioners. Now an
International Privacy Standard, Privacy by Design has been embraced by The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and European
Union. The international acclaim in 2010 paved the way for continued innovation
closer to home, to ensure that citizens' personal information is
protected - by default.
The Commissioner praised Ontario organizations that stood out in their
commitment to proactive privacy in 2010. They include Hydro One and Toronto Hydro for their work to embed privacy into Ontario's emerging Smart Grid, and The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, for a new privacy-protective biometric facial recognition system to
support its voluntary self-exclusion program, for patrons who want to
be kept out of gambling sites.
On the issue of access to information, the cities of Toronto and Ottawa earned special recognition for their leading open government
initiatives - the proactive release of pertinent government-held
information in open, usable formats.
Key Statistics: New records set for Privacy Complaints and FOI requests
Overall, the IPC closed 267 privacy complaints in 2010 under the two public sector information
and privacy Acts, the highest number ever. The disclosure of personal information was the most cited reason for filing a privacy
The number of FOI requests filed across Ontario in 2010 climbed to
38,903, breaking the record of 38,584 set in 2007.
The total number of privacy complaints filed with the IPC (under the two
public sector Acts and the Personal Health Information Protection Act) climbed to 440 in 2010
In 2010, 977 appeals (of decisions issued by individual government
organizations related to FOI requests) were submitted to the IPC, the
second highest number in 15 years.
Get Your Local Perspective - In-depth Statistics Available
A more detailed look at FOI compliance rates, requests, appeals and
privacy statistics is available in the online section of the
Commissioner's Annual Report. This lists specific 2010 statistics for
Ontario's ministries, agencies and local government institutions
covered under the Acts, such as municipalities, universities, health units and police services.
Find it all at www.ipc.on.ca
About the IPC
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government
of the day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access
and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and private sector health information
custodians. The Commissioner's mandate also includes helping to educate
the public about access and privacy issues.
SOURCE Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
For further information:
Direct line: 416-326-3939
Cell Phone: 416-873-9746
Toll free: 1-800-387-0073