WE COLLECT PERSONAL INFORMATION: PRIMARY PURPOSES Like most counselling agencies, we collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. For our clients, the primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide personal counselling. For example, we collect information about a client’s mental health history, including their family history, physical condition and function in social situations in order to help us assess what their mental health needs are, to advise them of their options and then to provide the counselling care they choose to have. A second primary purpose is to obtain a baseline of mental functioning and social information so that in providing ongoing counselling services we can identify changes that are occurring over time. It would be rare for us to collect such information without the client’s express consent, but this might occur in an emergency. Our duty to report is defined by our professional body and the Mental Health Act.
RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. However, we do not want to keep personal information too long in order to protect your privacy. We keep our client files for about ten years. We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. YOU CAN LOOK AT YOUR INFORMATION With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. Often all you have to do is ask. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language, etc.). We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a fee for such requests and will often include a summary report* and session to review the materials with you (*we quote associated fees for reports and review sessions upon request for your information). We may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we 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 we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information. DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Our Information Officer is Jeff Packer and he can be reached at: 905-571-7441 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org . He will attempt to answer any questions or concerns you might have. If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to our Information Officer. He will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, ensure that it is investigated 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 our services or the mental or physical capacity of any of our professional staff we would ask you to discuss those concerns with us. However, if we cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to complain to our regulatory body: ONTARIO COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SERVICE WORKERS & SOCIAL WORKERS 80 Bloor St.West; Suite 700 Toronto, ON, M5S 2V1 PHONE: (416) 972-9882. This policy is made under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which took full effect in Ontario and most other provinces on January 1st 2004.