What is personal information?
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information that related to their personal characteristics (eg., Gender, age, income, home address or phone number, ethnic background, family status), their health history, health conditions, health services received by them) or their activities and views (e.g., religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual). Personal information is to be contrasted with business information (e.g., an individual’s business address and telephone number) which is not protected by privacy legislation.
I collect personal information: Primary purpose:
I collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve my clients. For my clients, the primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide massage therapy treatments. For example, I collect information about a client’s health history, including their family history, physical condition and function and social situation in order to help me assess what their health needs are, to advise them of their options and then to provide the health care they choose to have.
About members of the general public
For members of the general public, my primary purposes for collecting personal information is to provide notice of special events (e.g., a seminars or conferences) or to make them aware of massage therapy services in general at my clinic in particular. For example, while I try to use work contact information where possible, I might collect home addresses, fax numbers and email addresses. I try to obtain consent before using such personal information, but where this is not, for any reason, possible, I will upon request immediately remove any personal information from my distribution list.
On my website, I only collect, with the exception of cookies, the personal information you provide and only use that information for the purpose you gave it to me (e.g., to respond to your email message, to register for a course, to notify and remind you of booking dates and times). Cookies are only used to help you navigate my website and are not used to monitor you.
I collect personal information: Related and Secondary purposes
Like most organizations, I also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to my primary purposes. The most common example of my related and secondary purposes is as follows:
- To invoice clients for goods or services that were not paid for at the time, to process credit card payments or to collect unpaid accounts.
- To advise clients that their product or service should be reviewed (e.g., to ensure a product is still functioning properly and appropriate for their then current needs and to consider modifications or replacement).
- To advise clients and others of special events or opportunities (e.g., a seminar, development of a new service, arrival of a new product) that I may have available.
- My clinic reviews client and other files for the purpose of ensuring that I provide high quality services. In addition, external consultants (e.g., auditors, lawyers, practice consultants, voluntary accreditation programs) may on my behalf do audits and continuing quality improvement reviews of my clinic, including reviewing client files.
- Massage therapists are regulated by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario who may inspect our records and interview us as part of their regulatory activities in the public interest. In addition, as professionals we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, our organization believes that is should report information suggesting serious illegal behaviour to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy obligations. Sometimes these reports include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g., improper services). Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview us as a part of their mandates. In these circumstances, we may consult with professions (e.g., lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.
- The cost of some goods/services provided by the organization to clients is paid for by third parties (e.g., OHIP, WSIB, private insurance, Assistive Devices Program). These third-party payers often have your consent or legislative authority to direct me to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to this funding.
- I retain your client information for a minimum of 10 years after the last contact to enable me to respond to questions you may have about products or services you have previously received. (The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario also requires me to retain your client records).
- If the Massage Results Clinic or its assets were to be sold, the purchaser would want to conduct a “due diligence” review of the Clinic’s record to ensure that it is a viable business that has been honestly portrayed to the purchaser. This due diligence may involve some review of my accounting and service files. The purchaser would not be able to remove or record personal information. Before being provided access to the files, the purchaser must provide a written promise to keep all personal information confidential. Only reputable purchasers’ who have already agreed to buy the organization’s business or its assets would be provided access to personal information, and only for the purpose of completing their diligence search prior to closing the purchase.
You can choose not to be part of some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., by declining to receive notice of special events or opportunities). I do not, however, have much choice about some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., external regulation)
Protecting personal information
I understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, I have taken the following steps:
- Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area
- Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords are used on computers. All of my cell phones are digital, which signals are more difficult to intercept.
- Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or through personal email addresses.
- Electronic information is transmitted through a direct line or secured site.
- External consultants and agencies with access to personal information must enter into privacy agreement with me.
Retention and destruction of personal information
Personal information will be removed and destroyed when the applicable time for storage of personal information expires.
I keep any personal information relating to my general correspondence such as newsletters, seminars and marketing activities for future contact of such activities or marketing. Individuals who have provided this information to me and who are not clients, may at any time, ask for the removal of their personal information and I will do so immediately.
I destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. I employ reputable companies to perform the shredding. I destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, I ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.
In the event of a privacy breach, Massage Results will notify it’s clients of the theft, loss or unauthorized access to their personal information.
You can look at your information
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information I hold about you. Often, all you have to do is ask. I can help you identify what records I might have about you; I will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, medical language, etc.)
If there is a problem I may ask you to put your request in writing. If I cannot give you access, I will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason as best I can as to why I cannot give you access.
If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions I may have formed. I may ask you to provide documentation that my files are wrong. Where I agree that I made a mistake, I will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If I do not agree that I have made a mistake I will still agree to include in your file a brief statement from you on the point and I will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.
I you wish to make a formal complain about my privacy practices, you may make it in writing. I will acknowledge receipt of your complaints: investigate it promptly and that you are provided with a formal decision and reasons in writing.
If you have a concern about the professionalism or competence of my services, please discuss this with me. If I cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to complain to my regulatory body:
MTAA (Massage Therapists Association of Alberta
# 2 7429 49 Ave, Red Deer, Alberta, T4P 1N2
This policy is made under the Personal Information Protection Act of Alberta. That is a complex act and provides some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out above.
For more general inquires, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsman for privacy disputes. The information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:
1012 KENT STREET/OTTAWA, ONTARIO K1A 1H3
PHONE (613)-995-8210/TOLL-FREE 1-800-282-1376/FAX (613)947-6850/TTY (613)992-9190