Dear Colleagues,

Some of you may already be familiar with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) in Ontario. At the end of this year (starting January 1, 2012), FIPPA will be applied to all Ontario hospitals.

The right of all Ontarians, and Canadians for that matter, to access public records is based on the premise that it is a practice of good government. Quite simply, it is a terrific measure of our democratic society that public bodies spending taxpayer dollars be transparent and open to scrutiny. That belief is one UHN upholds in all its practices, and one we embrace as we enter this new era of disclosure.

So, what does it all mean? It means all records held by UHN are subject to disclosure, be they an electronic database, a briefing paper, a video, or a sticky note. The public has the right of access to anything in UHN custody or control. That means everything from emails and meeting minutes to 3rd party and consultant contracts. On the flip side, there are a number of exclusions and exemptions, such as personal records of patients and some employment and labour relations records.

A bit head spinning at first, I know. To help you understand FIPPA, we have created a new FIPPA site on the intranet, which explains the Act in greater detail, what you need to know about it, and more information about records which are not affected by FIPPA. You can access the page at http://intranet.uhn.ca/home/foi.

How will FIPPA affect our day-to-day work? On a practical level, it means being aware that any of your written communication could be requested and reviewed. One rule of thumb is that you should be comfortable with the possibility of everything you write ending up on the front page of the Globe and Mail. That said, what is the likelihood a request will affect you personally? Hard to say. The key here is we must be prepared to fulfill any and all requests within the legislated timelines. Our performance will be scrutinized every year by the Information Commissioner, and the results publicly posted.

We intend to apply our same excellent UHN standards of health care to upholding the FIPPA requirements.

In the coming months we'll continue to brief staff, post new FIPPA developments on our Intranet site, and keep you informed on how this affects you. Our FIPPA Working Group, led so ably by Abigail Carter-Langford, UHN's Chief Privacy Officer, is working hard to ensure UHN systems and practices are in place, and that we are all ready for January 1, 2012.

Please take a moment to review the material Abigail's team has prepared, and if you have further questions, contact FOI@uhn.ca.


Bob ​

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