Last updated: August 15, 2013
General Scope and Application of the OIA Privacy Statement
Privacy Statement in the Context of Regulatory Matters
OIA Chief Privacy Officer
The Ontario Institute of Agrologists (OIA) serves under provincial statute to regulate its certified registrants and members. In the role of regulating registered practitioners and members, the OIA has a mandate and an obligation to protect the public interest.
The mission of the OIA is to protect the public by certifying the competence of qualified practitioners and to build public confidence in Ontario's agriculture, agri-food, and agri-environmental sector. The OIA advances the proficiency of Registered Agrologists serving society through member adherence to integrity within professional standards of practice, rigorous competency and educational requirements to join the profession, on-going continuous learning and competency enhancement, member utilization of sound scientific methods and principles that represent the foundation of agricultural and natural science, as well as through public accountability. The OIA will lead the advancement of Agrology practice in Ontario to reflect the public interest in agricultural and environmental quality, resource stewardship, energy sustainability, reclamation, and food quality through qualification assurance and accountability.
The OIA may need, or be required, to collect, use, and/or disclose information of a personal nature in order to do its work on behalf of members and to fulfill its mandate under The Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists Act, 1960. Personal information may also be collected, used, and/or disclosed during financial transaction activities. The OIA respects people's right to privacy and is committed to making all reasonable efforts to safeguard personal information in the possession of the OIA unless there is an over-riding public interest that would require such personal information to be disclosed or if the OIA is compelled by law. This Privacy Statement is meant to provide guidance to employees, members, volunteers, committee members and members of the public on OIA's management of information retained under various circumstances associated with fulfilling its mission, operational functions, and/or legislative mandate while having regard to privacy.
The purpose of this Privacy Statement is to ensure that:
- Personal information is not collected without an individual's knowledge and consent;
- Personal information is only used to fulfill the mandate, operational functions, and/or mission of the OIA; and
- Undertaking all reasonable endeavours, personal information is secure and protected to prevent loss, misuse, unauthorized disclosure, or modification.
Further, the Privacy Statement describes how the OIA will manage the personal information in its custody, or under its control, how such information is to be collected, how it is to be used, and the conditions under which it may be disclosed.
As a non-profit corporation operating in the private sector, the OIA has developed this Privacy Statement through the guidance of the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) principles. For more information on the PIPEDA, please visit http://www.priv.gc.ca/leg_c/leg_c_p_e.asp.
The OIA reserves the right to update this Privacy Statement periodically to ensure it remains current with changing technologies and OIA's Legislation and By-Laws, as well as applicable federal or provincial laws.
General Scope and Application of the OIA Privacy Statement
The OIA Privacy Statement applies to information collected, used, and/or disclosed by the OIA about OIA members, employees, volunteers, and members of the public. This information can be in any form including oral, electronic, or written. This Privacy Statement does not apply to information regarding OIA's corporate customers as these matters are addressed within contractual requirements and agreements.
- "Collection" means gathering, acquiring, receiving, recording, photographing or obtaining information from any source and by any means;
- "Use" means treating, handling, administering, analyzing, or applying information collected; and
- "Disclosure" means showing, telling, sending, giving or making available information to some other individuals, organizations or the public.
The OIA collects, uses, and/or discloses both personal and non-personal information to provide services to its members and to the public and to fulfill its mandate under legislation to protect public interest.
- "Personal information" is information about an identifiable individual. It generally includes, but is not limited to, information such as name, date of birth, personal email, home address, home telephone number, gender, and citizenship.
- "Non-personal information" includes, but is not limited to, information such as work title, business name, business address and business telephone/fax number, work experience of an employee, and IP address.
- References are also acquired and contacted during the application process. By providing the name and contact information of an individual to serve as a reference, an individual is consenting to release of information that may be of a personal or non-personal nature.
This Privacy Statement does not impose any limits on the collection, use, and/or disclosure of the following information by the OIA:
- A member's name, address, telephone number and email address when listed in a directory or available through directory assistance; or
- An employee's name, title, business address, business telephone/fax number and email address.
The OIA will ensure all reasonable and practical steps to protect the personal information of OIA members, employees, volunteers, and members of the public up to the point where the obligation to protect the public interest supersedes the obligation to protect such information or is otherwise compelled by law.
Any individual may withdraw consent, in writing, at any time for the collection, use, and/or disclosure of his/her personal information. However, for the purposes outlined above, a withdrawal may result in the OIA having to dismiss a complaint, close an investigation, cease to offer services, and/or strike a member from the OIA Register.
The OIA may collect, use, and/or disclose information from individuals as necessary:
- To facilitate application for admission;
- To manage financial and administrative activities; and
- To follow up on complaints, concerns, and/or requests for services.
The purposes of OIA's collection, use, and/or disclosure of information regarding its members are:
- To administer ongoing membership;
- To assess whether a member meets, as well as continues to meet, the standards of qualification for a designation;
- To monitor member needs;
- To communicate with members on matters of interest;
- To create mailing lists in connection with branches;
- To collect various fees;
- To facilitate transfers under Labour Mobility;
- To assess whether a former member's designation should be reinstated;
- To determine whether a member is incapacitated;
- To investigate complaints regarding the conduct or actions of a member of the OIA;
- To investigate whether a member has committed an act of professional misconduct or is incompetent and to resolve such matters including, but not limited to, imposition of specified continuing education, remediation programs, and/or undertakings as deemed appropriate;
- To hold a hearing of allegations of a member's professional misconduct or incompetency or allegations that a member is incapacitated, and to achieve resolution of such matters and implement decisions arising as appropriate;
- To identify those not authorized to possess a professional designation under the OIA Act and/or By-Laws;
- To provide information about a member to the public for regulatory purposes on the OIA Register, the OIA membership directory that is accessible through OIA's website and includes information about discipline; and
- To administer and/or enforce the Act and/or By-Laws of the Institute.
Collection of Information
The OIA may acquire information in the following ways:
- Voluntarily from members and the public either verbally or in writing;
- When an individual applies to become a member;
- When an individual corresponds or otherwise communicates with the OIA;
- When an individual files a complaint;
- When a submission is made through a web-based form including, but not limited to, an application form, payment form, order form, survey, or e-Vote; and
- From third parties when an individual authorizes disclosure of information.
When an individual places an inquiry or a request for services, makes a payment, files a complaint, or completes an application for admission to membership, the OIA assumes consent (either expressly or impliedly) from the individual to our collection, use and/or disclosure of the submitted information.
Access to Personal Information
Personal information maintained by the OIA is accessible only for the purpose for which it has been provided and consented (either expressly or impliedly) and only by employees or other persons (e.g., volunteers, branch executive members, officers, or other members of the OIA) who have a bone fide responsibility to carry out OIA operational functions, its mandate, Legislation, and/or By-Laws.
Where the OIA holds personal information about an individual, upon written request, the OIA shall allow access to the information to that individual. However, access may be denied if:
- It is impracticable, or impossible, to retrieve the requested information;
- Disclosure of the information could reasonably be deemed as defeating the purposes for which the information has been collected;
- Disclosure of the information could reasonably be considered as leading to risk of harm to the requestor or a third party;
- Disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere with OIA operation or with the enforcement of OIA Legislation and/or By-Laws;
- The information contains references to another individual or individuals that cannot be severed;
- The information cannot be disclosed in the course of an inspection, investigation, inquiry, assessment, or similar procedure for legal or security reasons; or
- The request is frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or represents an abuse of process.
Should the individual require a hardcopy and/or an electronic transfer of the information kept in his/her personal profile, the OIA may charge a minimum of $25 administration fee for such a request.
Accuracy of Information
The OIA endeavours to ensure that the information it collects, uses, and/or discloses is accurate and uses all reasonable means to keep the information as current as possible. The OIA maintains a unique, password-protected, members-only login portal where OIA members can access, update and/or correct, if necessary, their membership profile at any time and record their continuous professional development (CPD) information. The OIA will respond to members', and complainants', requests to update personal information. However, it remains the responsibility of each member to update his/her information and to ensure the information is accurate on the OIA Register.
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Records
The OIA demands, records, and audits the CPD declarations of its members. In addition to storing members' CPD activities, the OIA processes the data submitted by the members and may publish a report on the profession's CPD activities to the public. In any public report, members would not be individually identified.
Protection of Information
Personal and non-personal information, as well as continuous professional development records, retained by the OIA are protected through use of safety measures that are appropriate to the form and sensitivity of the information. These safety measures may include physical locks, technological safeguards such as firewalls, passwords, and encryptions, and appropriate procedures that ensure restricting access to personal information to authorized individuals. Personal information that is no longer required to be retained is disposed of in a confidential and secure manner (e.g., shredding).
The OIA implements reasonable precaution means (physically, electronically and managerially) to protect the collected information against loss or theft and to safeguard it from unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification. However, it must be acknowledged that due to their physical characteristics, mails, telephone calls, faxes and internet transmissions are all susceptible to possible loss, interception, and misuse of the information being communicated or transmitted.
OIA website (and the pages under the www.oia.on.ca domain) presents extensive Agrology relevant information and contain many external links. Access to these external inks is at the discretion of our website users. The OIA is not responsible for the privacy practices and/or the content therein of such websites. Further, certain names, words, titles, phrases, logos, icons, graphics, or designs displayed on the OIA website may constitute trade names, registered or unregistered trademarks or service marks of organizations or of third parties.
Notwithstanding our efforts to keep the information posted on our website up-to-date and reliable, the OIA cannot guarantee this information is accurate or complete or current at all times. All information available on the OIA website is subject to change and the website may not immediately reflect such changes.
Visitors to the OIA website can access and browse our site without disclosing personal information. The OIA employs "cookie" technology to measure and monitor our website and to improve its content. Cookies are small text files that contain website usage data but no personal identifiable information. The OIA cannot assure visitors the cookie policies of the linked websites on our site. Further, the OIA website, through our internet service provider, may automatically gather some general information such as the visitor's IP (internet protocol) address, browser type, operating system, pages visited, date and time accessed... etc.
Information is also gathered when OIA members access the members-only pages via a logging process. This logging information is used only for website statistics, not for individual profiling. Certain changes to personal information may be recorded and automatically forwarded to specific staff responsible for additional database management functions. As noted, through the OIA website, members are able to voluntarily provide information to update personal information and non-personal in different ways. To guard against fraudulent uses or requests for access, the OIA will require sufficient information to allow identity confirmation of the person wishing to gain access to the personal information.
All information on the OIA website is protected under the copyright laws of Canada. Visitors of our site are entitled to copy any information for their own personal use but may not republish or reproduce any such information in any manner without the prior consent of the OIA.
The OIA makes all reasonable efforts to ensure the security of all financial sensitive information. Hardcopies of individual's credit card information (e.g., name, numbers, expiry date, and security code) received by the OIA office are destroyed after authorized transaction is being processed. However, as a convenience to members, the ability for the OIA to retain credit card information for future payments at the request of a member is accepted. Electronic financial transactions for membership renewals, application fees, OIA merchandise, and conference/workshop/course/exam registrations are conducted through a secure site with information transmitted using encryptions.
Event Photographs and Videos
For advertising and promotional purposes, the OIA, or agents on behalf of the OIA, may take photographs or videos at OIA events or at those functions where a number of OIA members are in attendance or serve as presenters/speakers. The OIA reserves the right to photograph and/or video all participants, attendees, performers, exhibitors and volunteers (without exception). Participation at such occasions implies consent to be photographed and/or videoed for use in print or electronic publicity solely by the OIA. Individuals who do not wish to be photographed or videoed must approach the OIA directly and identify themselves.
To ensure the privacy of minors, images will not be identified using full names or personal information without written approval from a parent or legal guardian.
Requests for Information by Third Parties/Others
Other than to our website/server service provider, the OIA does not sell, exchange, share, trade, transfer, or otherwise make available for marketing or other purposes to any other parties personal or non-personal information in its possession without the consent of the individual. The OIA may be required to release personal information when it is deemed appropriate:
- To comply with applicable laws, court orders, or certain investigative bodies;
- To protect against any suspicious fraudulent activities;
- To prevent potential harm to our members and/or the public; or
- To defend OIA rights, property and/or individual safety.
In these circumstances, OIA has no legal liability for such disclosures.
The OIA shall provide ability through its website for a member of the public to find a registered practicing Agrologist. It is the choice of member practitioners to be searchable and to have a promotional biography and/or photograph visible by the public.
Further, to help facilitate branch programs and services, the OIA will distribute branch membership lists with basic contact information to respective OIA Branch Executives. Those in receipt of this information will be reminded of OIA's privacy standards, as well as to perform due diligence when using the information verbally, electronically, and/or in writing. The OIA cannot guarantee branches' privacy practices and cannot be held responsible for any mismanagement of the released information by any individuals functioning on behalf of the branches.
Privacy Statement in the Context of Regulatory Matters
In the context of regulatory matters of the OIA, this Privacy Statement applies to:
- All OIA staff involved in regulatory activities;
- Any third party which has been delegated the responsibility to carry out some activities under a regulatory process (e.g., third party evaluation of credentials);
- Volunteers appointed to various regulatory committees;
- Legal counsels;
- Investigators appointed by the OIA in regards to the investigation of complaints,
- Persons who are not employees of the OIA or volunteers who may be retained for specific purposes in the context of regulatory activities (e.g., court reporters, transcribers, translators, interpreters, process servers, printers);
- Members of the OIA who are involved in any regulatory process at the OIA;
- Witnesses, expert witnesses; and
- Members of the public who attend any regulatory proceeding by the OIA which is open to the public.
The access to personal information in any regulatory matters of the OIA shall be limited to those who have a need to know this information and to protect the public interest. All persons engaged in regulatory activities or proceedings carried out by the OIA have duty of confidentiality. They shall not disclose any such information or material to any individuals except in the course of fulfilling the OIA mandate or as required by law.
Regulatory matters of the OIA mean any affairs that are undertaken by the OIA in fulfilment of its regulatory mandate (Legislation and By-Laws). This implies all activities carried out in the public interest.
The general principle utilized is that the greater good can dictate that personal information can, or should, be collected, used, and/or disclosed without consent. Legal precedent has led to the recognition that registered professionals do give up some of their rights to privacy in exchange for the privilege of being certified or regulated as professionals in practice. In other words, protection of the public interest will surpass privacy rights of regulated professionals. However, at all times there must be a reasonable public interest defense to justify the collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information without consent.
Procedural fairness is another reason why there may be limits to privacy. As an example, in the handling of a complaint, the identity of the complainant will be revealed to the member against whom the complaint was made. However in the situation where revealing the identity of the complainant would put the complainant at risk of harm, the complainant's identity might be withheld. In this case, the right to safety surpasses the public interest.
Another principle is that administration of justice, and public confidence in the administration of justice, requires transparency in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings. For this reason, disciplinary hearings are usually public. Nevertheless there are some circumstances, such as in an incidence of personal safety, where such hearings may be closed to the public.
Sharing information amongst Agrology Institutes upon the request to transfer by an individual is a core regulatory activity at the OIA. In the context of the Agreement on International Trade and the Agreement for Labour Mobility signed between all Agrology Institutes within Canada, at the request of a member, personal information and non-personal information, as well as membership status, professional designation, and current professional development compliance, may be shared with the provincial Agrology Institutes that the member seeks transferring to. The purpose of sharing this information is to ensure:
- Occupational standards or certification requirements of an individual have been met;
- Qualifications against established occupational standards or certification requirements have been assessed; and
- Official recognition that an individual meets established occupational standards or certification requirements has been verified.
Further, OIA members can possess a complementary professional certification (e.g., law, forestry, and accounting) and there may be sharing of personal information as necessary among professional regulatory bodies. The OIA does have a legislative basis to maintain legislative occupational standards, assessing individuals against such standards, and recognizing individuals who have met such standards.
Other regulatory activities involving potential disclosure of personal and non-personal information will include:
- Continuing professional development;
- Complaints and investigations processes;
- Disciplinary processes; and
- Maintenance of continuous professional development requirements which are also shared amongst Agrology Institutes.
In the course of achieving its professional regulation objectives, the OIA may collect, use, and/or disclose information about members regarding:
- Membership status and/or membership history;
- Whether the person has been the subject of any disciplinary, incompetence, incapacity or similar proceedings by the OIA;
- Whether the person has been denied registration by the OIA and the reasons why registration was denied;
- Whether the person's registration with the OIA was the subject of any terms and conditions;
- Whether the person's registration with the OIA was ever suspended or revoked;
- In the case of a resignation, whether there was a complaint, investigation or proceeding against the person or any outstanding obligations to the OIA; or
- Whether there were terms of any undertakings that the person has agreed to with the OIA.
In regulatory matters, privacy becomes one factor among others that must be balanced. OIA's commitment is that its By-Laws, policies, procedures, and decisions in the context of professional regulation will always be based on a careful appreciation of the circumstances at hand.
Specific Situations Where OIA May Collect, Use, and/or Disclose Personal Information without Consent
Under our By-Laws, the OIA must maintain and make public its membership directory. Upon request, the contents of OIA's public membership directory (the OIA Register) may be disclosed by mail, telephone or facsimile, or via email. Any disclosure will be limited to the information contained on the OIA Register and according to any conditions set out in the By-Laws.
Another scenario involves any complaint. The identity of the complainant will be disclosed to the member against whom the allegations of misconduct, incompetence, or incapacity were made. This disclosure is required in order to provide the member with a fair opportunity to answer the allegations. Only when the disclosure of the identity of the complainant would place the complainant in danger of harm would the identity of the complainant be withheld. The OIA will not require the consent of the member to collect, use, and/or disclose personal information relevant to an investigation pursuant to a complaint alleging misconduct, incompetence, or incapacity. However, the OIA will collect, use, and/or disclose only as much personal information as is reasonable for the conduct of the investigation. The OIA will disclose personal information of its members to other bodies authorized to carry out investigations. Again, OIA will limit its disclosure to information that is relevant to the investigation.
The OIA will refuse access to an individual's own personal information in investigation records, for example, if disclosing the information would interfere with an investigation or pose a threat to any witness.
For more information on the OIA complaints and disciplinary process and the related protocol, please refer to the OIA web link http://www.oia.on.ca/file-a-public-complaint/.
The public confidence in the administration of justice requires transparency in disciplinary proceedings. The notice of hearing shall be made public for all matters referred to the discipline committee except for matters involving personal safety/security. Disciplinary hearings shall be open to the public except where the hearing panel is of the opinion that public security matters, intimate financial or personal matters, or other matters, given the circumstances, may be disclosed at the hearing where avoiding disclosure in the interests of any person affected or in the public interest supersedes the operational principle that hearings be open to the public. In such a case, the tribunal may hold the hearing in the absence of the public.
The outcome of disciplinary proceedings shall be made public. The disposition of the disciplinary proceeding will be recorded in the registrant database and the outcome be publicised through other channels (e.g., website, newsletters).
All members who are removed from the registrant database, including individuals who resign or cease to be qualified for membership, may also be publicised through OIA website and/or newsletters.
OIA Chief Privacy Officer
Serving as the OIA Registrar, Terry Kingsmill, P.Ag., is designated as OIA's Chief Privacy Officer. He has overall responsibility for the protection of personal information at the OIA and for OIA's compliance with this Privacy Statement. From time to time the responsibility of the Chief Privacy Officer may be delegated to other OIA staff.
The OIA Chief Privacy Officer shall investigate all complaints concerning compliance with the OIA Privacy Statement. The OIA will make every effort to respond to any complaints within thirty days. If a complaint is found to be justified, the OIA shall take appropriate measures to resolve the complaint including, if necessary, amending its policies and procedures. All implicated parties shall be informed of the investigation outcome pertaining to the complaint.
For any questions or concerns regarding this Privacy Statement and/or OIA's privacy practices, or to make a complaint, please contact:
Mr. Terry Kingsmill, P.Ag.
Ontario Institute of Agrologists
100 Stone Road West, Suite 108
Guelph, ON N1G 5L3
Tel: 519-826-4226 Ext-230
For further information, or to report a concern about the handling of your personal information, you may also access the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's website at www.priv.gc.ca.