101 Bloor Street West
Toronto ON, M5S 0A1
P: 416-961-8800
Toll Free (Ontario Only): 1-888-534-2222
F: 416-961-8822
info@oct.ca

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Voluntary Privacy Code


Introduction

The College collects, uses and discloses personal information during the course of its statutorily mandated activities as the regulator of the profession of teaching. Because these regulatory activities are not of a “commercial” nature, they are not subject to the provisions of PIPEDA. In recognition of the important principles that underlie the PIPEDA, however, the College is voluntarily working to develop a privacy policy that is appropriate for its unique role as a regulator.

Preamble

The Ontario teaching profession is governed by the Ontario College of Teachers, a self-regulatory entity created by the Ontario College of Teachers Act (the “OCTA”). The College's powers and duties are contained within the OCTA, the regulations under that Act, and its bylaws.

The activities of the College are subject to a number of independent oversight mechanisms. The provincial Minister of Education administers the OCTA. The College is obliged to report annually to the Minister (s. 11). The Minister also has the authority to review the College Council's activities, require the Council to make reports, require the Council to amend, revoke or make a regulation, and require the Council to undertake such actions as the Minister believes necessary to carry out the intent of the OCTA (s. 12).

The Ontario College of Teachers has the following objects, which are set out in s. 3(1) of the OCTA:

  1. To regulate the profession of teaching and to govern its members.
  2. To develop, establish and maintain qualifications for membership in the College.
  3. To accredit professional teacher education programs offered by post-secondary educational institutions.
  4. To accredit ongoing education programs for teachers offered by post-secondary educational institutions and other bodies.
  5. To issue, renew, amend, suspend, cancel, revoke and reinstate certificates of qualification and registration.
  6. To provide for the ongoing education of members of the College
  7. To establish and enforce professional standards and ethical standards applicable to members of the College.
  8. To receive and investigate complaints against members of the College and to deal with discipline and fitness to practise issues.
  9. To develop, provide and accredit educational programs leading to certificates of qualification additional to the certificate required for membership, including but not limited to certificates of qualification as a supervisory officer, and to issue, renew, amend, suspend, cancel, revoke and reinstate such additional certificates.
  10. To communicate with the public on behalf of the members of the College.
  11. To perform such additional functions as are prescribed by the regulations.

In carrying out each of these objects, the College has a statutorily imposed duty to serve and protect the public interest (s. 3(2) of the OCTA).

The College may collect, use, and disclose “personal information” within the meaning of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) in the course of fulfilling its statutory duties. This information may relate to membership applicants, members, those who have a complaint with respect to a member, and persons who are engaged in the administration of the OCTA.

The College must be able to collect, use and disclose such information in order to meet its statutory obligations to govern the profession of teaching and to protect the public interest while doing so.

Part IX.1 of the OCTA sets out the College's right to receive information from employers and former employers of College members in certain circumstances. Part IX.1 also sets out the circumstances under which the College must provide information.

The College is given the right under s. 47 of the OCTA to obtain information, including personal information with the meaning of s. 38 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act(Ont.) and s. 28 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act(Ont.) from a number of specific entities.

Section 48 of the OCTA contains confidentiality provisions that apply to all persons who are engaged in the administration of the OCTA, including public appointees. These provisions require them to preserve secrecy with respect to all information that comes to their knowledge during the course of their duties.

In addition, a person engaged in the administration of the OCTA cannot be compelled to give testimony with respect to information obtained in the course of his or her duties in a civil proceeding, other than a proceeding under that Act, or an appeal or judicial review taken from a proceeding under the Act.

Similarly, a record of a proceeding under the OCTA,documents or things prepared for such a proceeding, statements given during such a proceeding, and orders or decisions made during a proceeding cannot be admitted in a civil proceeding, other than a proceeding related to the administration of the OCTA.

These provisions are included in Schedule 1 to this Privacy Code.

The OCTA provides for very substantial penalties in the event the confidentiality provisions are breached. Subsection 48(4) states that every person who contravenes subsection 48(1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000.


Definitions

The following terms used in this Privacy Code have the meanings set out below:

“Bylaws” means the Bylaws of the Ontario College of Teachers

“College” means the Ontario College of Teachers

“Council” means the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers as required under the Ontario College of Teachers Act

“Discipline Committee” means the Discipline Committee of the College as required under the Ontario College of Teachers Act

“Executive Committee” means the Executive Committee of the College as required under the Ontario College of Teachers Act

“Fitness to Practise Committee” means the Fitness to Practise Committee the College as required under the Ontario College of Teachers Act

“Legislation” means the Ontario College of Teachers Act, the regulations under that Act and the College's Bylaws

“Member” means a member of the College

OCTAmeans the Ontario College of Teachers Act

Personal Information” means information about an identifiable individual, however recorded, whether in printed form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise, but does not include the name, title or business address, business email address or telephone number of an individual

“Registrar” means the Registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers


Accountability

The Registrar is accountable for ensuring that the provisions of the Privacy Code are met. Questions with respect to the Code should be directed to the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Ontario College of Teachers, 101 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S 0A1. Alternatively, inquiries may be made by telephone at (416) 961-8800, or at info@oct.ca.

The College's Privacy Code will be available on the College's website at www.oct.ca. Copies may also be requested by phone at the number above or by mail at the College's address, which also appears directly above.

The College will provide orientation and training to all new employees and appointees, as well as to all members of Council, the College's committees or working groups, with respect to their obligations of confidentiality under s. 48 of the OCTA. In addition, each contract with third party suppliers contains a confidentiality clause.


Identifying Purposes of Collection, Use and Disclosure

The College collects, uses and discloses personal information relating to its members or other persons, such as employers, colleagues, registration applicants, and complainants, solely to administer and enforce the OCTA and to meet its obligations thereunder.

It is collected both on a regular basis and periodically, and is collected, used and disclosed only in accordance with the legislation.

Those purposes include:

  • to regulate the profession of teaching and to govern the College's members
  • to determine whether an applicant for membership meets the College's membership qualification requirements
  • to determine whether a member continues to meet the College's membership qualification requirements
  • to investigate complaints made with respect to the conduct or actions of a member
  • to determine whether a member has committed an act of professional misconduct or is incompetent, and to hold hearings in order to make that determination
  • to determine whether a member is incapacitated, and to hold hearings in order to make that determination
  • to determine whether a former member may be reinstated as a member and to hold a hearing to make that determination
  • to determine whether terms, conditions or limitations placed on a member's certificate should be varied or removed
  • to negotiate and implement informal resolutions of complaints
  • to supervise a member pursuant to either an order of the Discipline Committee, the Fitness to Practise Committee or an Undertaking or other agreement with the College
  • to maintain and update the College's register as required under the legislation, as well as information pertaining to members that is required for the purposes of administering the legislation
  • to provide statistical information for the purposes of human resources planning and demographic studies, including aggregate reports
  • to conduct elections of the College's Council
  • to perform such additional functions as are provided for by the legislation.

The College also collects, and uses personal information regarding individuals who are retained, elected or appointed for the purposes of administering the legislation for a number of purposes, including the following:

  • to review prospective candidates and retain or appoint persons for the purpose of administering the legislation
  • to maintain records to ensure accurate remuneration and payment of expenses, and all documentation required by law and by government in accordance with sound accounting practices
  • to communicate with the person
  • to maintain accurate and fair accounts of any disputes, conflicts of interest or misconduct involving a person who has been retained, appointed or elected for the purpose of administering the legislation, including Council or committee members
  • to make payments and provide benefits.

Where it is appropriate, practicable, and in the public interest to do so, the College will identify the purposes for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

Where, however, the identification would be inconsistent with the legislation or would defeat the purpose of the legislation, the purposes for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information would not be identified.

If personal information is collected by telephone, the call will be monitored and recorded for the following reasons:

  • to ensure that the College is meeting its statutory responsibilities
  • to update and maintain applicants' and members' contact information
  • to maintain accurate and fair record of matters regarding additional review or investigation
  • to assist with employee training
  • to ensure quality control.

Where personal information has been collected for one purpose, the College reserves the right to use and disclose the information for another purpose permitted under the legislation, where it is in the public interest to do so. Where, for instance, the College undertakes an investigation of a member after receiving a complaint, it may review other files held by the College about that member to the extent that there is information that is relevant to the current complaint.


Consent

The College collects personal information for purposes related to its objects (see the Preamble of this Privacy Code), including for the purpose of the proper administration and enforcement of the legislation and for other related regulatory purposes. In carrying out its objects, the College has a duty to serve and protect the public interest.

The College will make a reasonable effort to identify to the individual from whom personal information is collected the purposes for which the information will be used and to obtain their consent, where it is practicable to do so.

However, it will not be possible either to identify the purposes for which the information is collected or to obtain consent in all cases, and may in fact defeat the purpose for which the information is gathered in the first place.

In cases where consent has not been obtained, personal information is collected, used and disclosed only in strict accordance with the requirements of the legislation and to fulfill the College's statutory duties and obligations.


Limiting Collection

The College limits its collection of personal information to that which is required for the purposes set out under Principle 2 of this Privacy Code, and will collect it by fair and lawful means.

Part IX.1 and section 47 of the OCTA permit the College to collect personal information from specifically named entities for the purpose of carrying out its statutory obligations to regulate the profession of teaching. These provisions are included in Schedule 1.


Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention

The College limits its use of personal information to those purposes identified in Principle 2 and in accordance with the legislation. Personal information is disclosed only in accordance with s. 48 of the OCTA.

The legislation clearly delineates what information may be disclosed and made available to the public. Links to the legislation are provided through the College's website at www.oct.ca.

Under s. 23 of the OCTA, as well as ss. 24-27 and s. 31 of the bylaws, certain personal information must appear on the College's register, which is available to the public. In particular, s. 26 of the bylaws sets out what information must be removed from the register. These provisions are included in Schedule 1.

Generally speaking, discipline hearings are open to the public (s. 32(6)). Evidence introduced at such hearings may include personal information pertaining to the College member whose conduct or actions are the subject of the hearing or to complainants or witnesses. The Discipline Committee has the jurisdiction and discretion to close such hearings in whole or in part under certain conditions as set out in the legislation (s. 32(7)).

The College is obligated under s. 23(2) of the OCTA and s. 25 of the bylaws to publish specific information following a disciplinary hearing conducted by a panel of the College's Discipline Committee. This duty is in keeping with the College's overall responsibility to act in the best interest of the public.

In addition, a panel of the Discipline Committee may order that certain information be published in detail or in summary, with or without the member's name, in the College's official publication and in other manner or medium the panel deems appropriate in the particular circumstances of the case.

Fitness to practise hearings are always conducted in camera unless there are compelling reasons why they should be open to the public (s. 30(8)). The criteria for opening such hearings to the public are clearly delineated in s. 30(9) of the OCTA. Decisions of a panel of the Fitness to Practise Committee are not available to the public.

Former members who have had their certificates of qualification revoked or members whose certificates have been suspended may apply to the College to have a new certificate issued or the suspension lifted pursuant to s. 33. Reinstatement and variation hearings are closed to the public pursuant to s. 33(9) and (14).

The objective of all of these regulatory processes is the protection of the public interest.

The College has had a record retention policy in place since its inception and conducts audits to ensure that personal information that is no longer required is destroyed.

Questions about the College's retention policy may be directed to the Registrar.


Accuracy

It is in the best interest of the public that the College collects, uses and discloses accurate information in carrying out its regulatory activities. Consequently, the College uses reasonable efforts to ensure that the personal information it collects, uses and discloses is accurate.

Members are required under the bylaws to provide the College with personal information that is specified in s. 31.01 of the College's bylaws. They are also required to notify the College in writing when that information is no longer accurate within 30 days of the effective date of the change.

The information is updated at least once annually, when members renew their registration with the College.


Safeguards

The College ensures that any personal information in its possession is securely stored in electronic files that are accessible only by password and in physical files that are kept in locked storage units. Access to such information is restricted to authorized personnel.

These measures are reviewed periodically to ensure that personal information is secure.

Both orientation and ongoing employee training sessions include instruction regarding the College's statutory duty of confidentiality.

The College ensures that any personal information that is no longer required is shredded.


Openness

The College's voluntary privacy policy is available to both the public and its members through the College's website. Alternatively, copies may be requested by mail at 101 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S 0A1, by telephone at (416) 961-8800, or at info@oct.ca. Inquiries with respect to the voluntary policy may be directed to the College's Registrar.


Individual Access

Access

Where the College holds personal information about an individual and the individual makes a written request for access, the College may provide access to that information, unless it is impossible or impracticable to retrieve the information or access could reasonably be expected to interfere with the administration of the legislation.

Access may be denied in circumstances such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • The information contains references to other individuals and cannot be severed.
  • Providing the information is prohibitively costly.
  • Disclosure may result in significant harm to the person requesting access or to another third party.
  • The information was collected or created in the course of an inspection, investigation, inquiry, assessment or similar procedure authorized by law.
  • The College did not create the record and it is appropriate to direct the person to the organization that created it.
  • Disclosure may defeat the purpose for which the information was collected.
  • The information cannot be disclosed for legal, security, or commercial propriety reasons.
  • The information is subject to legal or other privilege.
  • The information was created during the course of a formal dispute resolution process.
  • The request is frivolous or vexatious, or is otherwise an abuse of process.

The College will make every effort to respond to a request within 30 days, and at no or minimal cost to the individual making the request, although the College reserves the right to charge a cost recovery fee where the nature of the request and/or the amount of the information makes such a fee appropriate. In those cases, the College will notify the person making the request of the approximate cost and will provide the information requested upon payment of that amount.

Written requests for access should be sent to the College's Registrar. The written request must contain contact information, as well as sufficient information about the person making the request to identify him or her.

In the event that the College refuses to provide access to personal information to an individual, the Registrar will provide reasons for denying access, and the individual may file a complaint with the Registrar.

Challenging Accuracy and Completeness of Personal Information

An individual has the right to request a correction of what is in his or her view inaccurate or incomplete. Where the individual successfully demonstrates that the personal information of a factual nature (and not, for instance, an expression of opinion) is inaccurate or incomplete, the College will amend the information as required.

Where it is appropriate to do so, the College will notify any third parties to whom it has disclosed inaccurate or incomplete information.

Where an individual's challenge has not been resolved to his or her satisfaction, the College will record the substance of the unresolved challenge.

Where it is appropriate to do so, notice of the unresolved challenge will be given to any third parties that have access to the information in question.


Challenging Compliance

Complaints or questions with respect to the College's compliance with this voluntary Privacy Code should be directed to the College's Registrar.

If the Registrar is unable to resolve the dispute, the individual will be informed of the College's privacy complaints procedure, which includes the following:

  • Acknowledging the complaint.
  • Reviewing the complaint by the College's Executive Committee
  • Providing a written decision and reasons to the individual making the complaint.
  • Taking appropriate measures where the complaint is found to be justified.

Schedule 1

Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996

S.O. 1996, c. 12, Section 48

Amended by: 1997, c. 31, s. 161; 2001, c. 9, Sched. E; 2001, c. 14, Sched. B; 2001, c. 24, ss. 6, 7; 2002, c. 7, ss. 2-6.

The Register

23. (1) The Registrar shall maintain a register.  1996, c. 12, s. 23 (1).

Contents

(2) Subject to any by-law respecting the removal of information from the register, the register shall contain,

(a) each member's name and the class of certificate of qualification and registration and any certificates of additional qualifications that the member holds;

(b) the terms, conditions and limitations imposed on each certificate of qualification and registration;

(c) a notation of every revocation, cancellation and suspension of a certificate of qualification and registration;

(d) information that a committee required by this Act directs shall be included; and

(e) information that the by-laws prescribe as information to be kept in the register.  1996, c. 12, s. 23 (2); 2001, c. 14, Sched. B, s. 3 (1); 2004, c. 26, s. 3 (1).

(2.1) Repealed:  2004, c. 26, s. 3 (2).

Inspection

(3) Any person has the right, during normal business hours, to inspect the register. 1996, c. 12, s. 23 (3).

Copies

(4) The Registrar shall provide to any person, on payment of a reasonable charge, a copy of any part of the register. 1996, c. 12, s. 23 (4).

101 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON, M5S 0A1, P: 416.961.8800 / Toll Free (Ontario Only): 1.888.534.2222 / F: 416.961.8822 / info@oct.ca

© 2019 Ontario College of Teachers

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