Common sense tempered with sensitivity to the privacy of individuals easily prevails when considering how to work within the bounds of FOIP.
Collecting personal information
FOIP requires that we collect information directly from an individual for reasons consistent with the purpose of the organization and necessary to operate the program. Taking the additional step of informing people of the personal information you will be collecting and how that information will be used is also necessary.
Disclosing personal information
FOIP requires strict limitations to disclosures of personal information. However, you may disclose virtually any information with the permission of the individuals involved. In some cases, this will be the simplest method of ensuring your activity is acceptable.
Keep in mind, however, that the majority does not rule when considering the disclosure of personal information. If every student but one provides permission to post marks in the hall, for example, you may disclose information for every student except that one individual. You may also make limited disclosures of personal information for reasons consistent with the purpose of the organization and necessary to operate our programs.
Working at Home
Many employees routinely complete aspects of the job duties at home, or use personal computers for MHC work. All individuals are reminded that responsibility for handling records appropriately does not end at the border of the campus-MHC and the individual employee continue to have legal custody of the record no matter where it is located. Therefore, using a home computer to build a database of student marks, or simply marking assignments at home could easily lead to disclosures of personal information that may potentially lead to a complaint.
It is not unusual for faculty or staff of MHC to receive inquires from law enforcement agencies. Generally, FOIP allows MHC to release information to a law enforcement officer only when a specific case file is open. Faculty and staff should refer all calls for confirmation of attendance from any agency to the FOIP coordinator who is authorized to make disclosures of this information subject to the Act.
FOIP Authority at MHC
The Act expects an organization to define which employees have authority under the Act. At Medicine Hat College, the delegated authority is the FOIP Coordinator:
FOIP for Students
On a day to day basis, FOIP will have little impact on your career as a student at MHC. You may notice that MHC forms carry a statement about FOIP. That is because MHC is required to tell you why we are collecting information from you, and what we intend to do with the information.
You should also expect MHC to seek information that will contribute to your success in your classroom or lab, or that is required for a specific instructional purpose. For example, we need to know about your academic history as part of the basic MHC admissions process.
In some cases, however, the information we require is much more personal and detailed. Various programs require health records, even criminal record checks, to ensure individuals may proceed with course work or on-the-job learning situations. If you feel uncomfortable with a request for information, please talk it over with your instructor or dean.
At times, it may seem that FOIP is a barrier to accomplishing a goal or task. For example, you will have to fill out a form to provide permission for an instructor to provide a reference. This extra step is required because MHC and its employees may release very limited information about you without express permission. You may also notice that some of your classes pay extra attention to FOIP. In most cases, that is because the teaching methods or situations in your class will require sharing more personal information than is common.
For more information about Medicine Hat College's privacy policies, please contact:
Medicine Hat College
299 College Drive SE
Medicine Hat AB T1A 3Y6
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