Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) gives individuals rights based on two principles:

    1. that records in the custody or control of public institutions are available to individuals (i.e. access to information); and
    2. that personal information held by public institutions is protected from unauthorized collection, use and disclosure (i.e. protection of privacy).

The legislation affects the way employees deal with records, such as; exams, grades, evaluations, appeals, etc. The Act also requires institutions to establish policies and procedures for retention and disposal of files.

What is a record?

Record is defined in Schedule 1 of the Act and includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other things on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means. It does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records.

What constitutes personal information?

The definition of personal information includes information such as the name, address, phone number, race, origin, colour, political or religious beliefs, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status and any identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to an individual. It also includes genetic information such as fingerprints or blood type, and personal history regarding health, education, finances, criminal records or employment. And finally, it includes anyone else’s recorded opinion about the individual and the individual’s recorded personal views or opinions, unless they are about someone else. Note that for employees working for public bodies, release of work-related contact information (such as name, office, phone) is not considered to be an unreasonable invasion of their privacy and is therefore releasable.

The FAQ below answers questions about CNC's responsibilities and employees' responsibilities in regards to the FIPPA legislation. As there are two distinct aspects to the Act, the questions and answers have been arranged into issues of privacy protection and access to information.

Protection of Privacy   

Protection of Privacy Issues

  • Can I post student grades using student I.D. numbers as identifiers?

  • Can I leave marked student papers or lab reports in a box outside my office?

  • Should I leave the book containing my students’ grades on my desk unattended?

  • Can I release any student information to parents, guardians, or funding sponsors?

  • Do reference checks required by potential student employers require student’s consent?

  • Can I store personal information collected on behalf of the College at any place other than CNC?

  • Do I need to concern myself with personal information that I am required to send via fax or email?

  • What privacy issues do I need to consider when posting to a webpage or publishing photos or videos?

  • What privacy issues do I need to consider in the case of lecture recording?

Access to Information Issues

Access to Information Issues

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Other Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should I keep student exams on file?

  • Does the Act require faculty to disclose their research projects?

  • How does the Act affect examination of personal information for research or statistical purposes?

  • How long should I keep personal information on file?

  • Can students access and receive copies of previous exam questions?

  • Does the Act cover minutes of bargaining agents and/or union meetings?

  • Does the Act cover Student Union records?

  • What about email?

  • If I am responsible for a committee that disseminates minutes, are there any precautions that I should take before distributing the minutes?