Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

These frequently asked questions have been compiled based on questions asked here at Mount Royal and questions asked at other post secondary institutions in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Submit any questions you would like added to FOIP@mtroyal.ca.

Note: For another source of information about FOIP try this link to a directory of Provincial Government FAQs about FOIP.

Administrative issues

  1. How do you handle a request for information that has been provided to Mount Royal by an external source?
  2. When does Mount Royal notify third parties about information requests?
  3. What may a public body ask for to determine whether an applicant cannot afford payment of fees charged to respond to a FOIP request?
  4. Is it appropriate to circulate a monthly listing of FOIP requests, including the name of the requester, to internal departments or the board of governors?
  5. Should media requests for information be treated in a particular manner?

Career/student employment issues

  1. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
  2. Should students be allowed to access evaluation forms completed by employers who accept students on placement?
  3. Can a professional body or local apprenticeship council force their clients to sign a blanket release so that they can have access Mount Royal records on students they sponsor or co-ordinate at the University?
  4. Is it a misuse of information when a student obtains an evaluation provided by an employer and then uses it as a reference? Should the employer sign an appropriate waiver?

Counselling issues

  1. Can information on the status of a high school graduate's application to Mount Royal be released to a high school counsellor?
  2. What is the legal responsibility of a counsellor versus Mount Royal with respect to personal information records?

Faculty issues

  1. Can student grades be posted using student numbers as identifiers?
  2. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
  3. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
  4. Can the Registrar release a student's address/phone number to a faculty member who is teaching the student?
  5. Can a faculty member ask students for personal information?
  6. Can laboratory reports be left in a lab for the students to pick up on their own?
  7. Is it permissible to leave reports containing students grades on an unattended desk?
  8. Do the personal notes on an examination paper belong to the student who fills in the spaces between questions with their answers?
  9. Can students access and receive copies of their own previously completed examination papers?
  10. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
  11. Can I withhold personal notes made during an interview with a student/staff member?
  12. Are the anecdotal notes made by faculty members about students in the clinical portion of the Nursing program considered personal information?
  13. Is the student entitled to view evaluative opinions of the selection committee(s) for admission/ awards?
  14. For a variety of reasons, many staff members have access, via computer or hard copy, to student information. Can we assume the normal access is "consistent purpose"?
  15. Is it permissible to post in the halls of Mount Royal the student names and numbers of those who are "eligible to graduate" to ensure that students know whether or not they have successfully completed or are registered in all the courses required for graduation?
  16. Is Mount Royal obliged under FOIP to release exam questions and answers? If so, when and under what circumstances?
  17. If written final exams have to be retained for one year after they are written, can students appeal their final grades up to one year after the exam in written?
  18. What responsibility does Mount Royal have to ensure that the student has actually signed consent to release personal information?

Financial issues

  1. By what authority can the finance department release student information to a collection agency when a student has outstanding accounts?
  2. What information may be released to the collection agency?
  3. Where financial reports are required on completion of a licensed event are they releasable to the public?
  4. Can full details of a contract, including personal information, be disclosed to Revenue Canada for the purpose of tax evasion investigations?
  5. If a request were made for detailed legal invoices, what information on the invoices would be released?

Human Resource issues

  1. Can I withhold personal notes made during an interview with a student/staff member?
  2. When applying for a posted position, is the information contained in the application submitted to Human Resources affected by the Act?
  3. Performance reviews are carried out annually with accompanying documentation. Are these documents personal information and subject to access? Can they be shared with the President, Human Resources etc as "consistent purpose"?
  4. Can Mount Royal confirm, in response to a telephone inquiry, whether an individual is employed with Mount Royal and their specific salary?
  5. Can full details of a contract, including personal information, be disclosed to Revenue Canada for the purpose of tax evasion investigations?
  6. Can personal information be disclosed to the Human Resources Development Canada if they inquire about an employee?
  7. Can an employer contact anyone they want for a reference check without consent from the employee or job applicant?
  8. If Mount Royal is provided with an employee's consent to release their employee records to WCB, is it expected to sever third party information?
  9. Could an employee's own personal information be withheld by Mount Royal in cases where the employee has made a claim against Mount Royal?
  10. If a severance document indicates that the parties will not release information and Mount Royal is forced to do so under FOIP, can the previous employee sue?
  11. What personal information on an employee can be provided to employee associations and under what section of the Act would this occur?
  12. Representatives from Human Resources Development Canada (E.I.) requests access to all information on the dismissal of an employee. Does Mount Royal have to provide access to the complete file?
  13. Can personal information be collected about an employee in an internal investigation without their permission?
  14. What can be withheld regarding internal investigations of staff misconduct? Who has a right of access to this information?
  15. How long must application forms for unsuccessful candidates or unsolicited application forms be kept?
  16. How should the University respond to a request for information on an employee's wage loss as a result of a motor vehicle accident from (1) a lawyer, (2) an insurance company?
  17. Will a request for an individual's own personal information always be a formal request under the Act?
  18. An operational review process provides an evaluation type report by staff of various services. The review team has published a summary report without using names. However, if a supervisor whose services are being reviewed has access to the review notes, there could be misinterpretations or hurt feelings. Are the notes considered personal information and therefore accessible?
  19. Will internal memos that contain recommendations and refer to an individual by name be available to that individual?
  20. For a variety of reasons, many staff members have access, via computer or hard copy, to student information. Can we assume the normal access is "consistent purpose"?

Materials management/purchasing issues

  1. Can copies of contracts with consultants, engineers, contractors be released?
  2. Can suppliers have access to evaluation documents of bidders' proposals?
  3. Should a public body release invitation tender lists to suppliers?

Public affairs/alumni issues

  1. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
  2. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
  3. Is a verbal consent to use photographs for promotion adequate or should waivers be signed where students are identified or identifiable?

Records/retention issues

  1. When applying for a posted position, is the information contained in the application submitted to Human Resources affected by the Act?
  2. What are the limitations on researchers using Mount Royal records?
  3. What legal obligations exist regarding the keeping of records?
  4. Can personal information collected on behalf of Mount Royal be permanently stored at a location other than Mount Royal?
  5. Is Mount Royal required to create a record in a different form than that which it currently has? I.e. information contained in several databases rather than as one record?
  6. Will a request for an individual's own personal information always be a formal request under the Act?
  7. Is a public body required to sever libelous comments from letters of complaint before releasing them under FOIP?
  8. Can access to a record be denied under the Act because the requester already has a copy of the requested record?
  9. If records have been sent for destruction but not yet destroyed when an access request is received, does the public body have to include such records in the request process?

Student issues

  1. Can personal information (such as telephone number, timetable, address etc) of students or staff be released to a third party?
  2. Is a student's timetable considered personal information and not releasable without consent?
  3. Can student grades be posted using student numbers as identifiers?
  4. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
  5. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
  6. Can the Registrar release a student's address/phone number to a faculty member who is teaching the student?
  7. Can a faculty member ask students for personal information?
  8. Can the Registrar release a student's phone number to a Mount Royal counsellor?
  9. Can Mount Royal collect third party information from students, e.g. parents' date of birth/education?
  10. Do the personal notes on an examination paper belong to the student who fills in the spaces between questions with their answers?
  11. Can students access and receive copies of their own previously completed examination papers?
  12. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
  13. Should students be allowed to access evaluation forms completed by employers who accept students on placement?
  14. Can a professional body or local apprenticeship council force their clients to sign a blanket release so that they can have access to Mount Royal records on students they sponsor or co-ordinate at the University?
  15. Is it a misuse of information when a student obtains an evaluation provided by an employer and then uses it as a reference? Should the employer sign an appropriate waiver?
  16. Is the student entitled to view evaluative opinions of the selection committee(s) for admission/ awards?
  17. Can the registrar confirm that a student is registered in a specific program at Mount Royal in response to a third party inquiry?
  18. Is it permissible to post in the halls of Mount Royal the student names and numbers of those who are "eligible to graduate" to ensure that students know whether or not they have successfully completed or are registered in all the courses required for graduation?
  19. If high school grades in selected prerequisite subjects become part of Mount Royal record or transcript through the admission process, can they be released to students or to third parties at the student's request?
  20. Can the registrar refuse to release grades, transcripts, diplomas etc. to students delinquent in tuition fee payments, library books or other equipment return?
  21. If written final exams have to be retained for one year after they are written, can students appeal their final grades up to one year after the exam in written?
  22. To what extent is the sharing of information about students with student societies included under the term consistent use?
  23. Students often ask for copies of documents they submitted in support of their application. This could include high school, college or university transcripts, medical information or reference letters. Does Mount Royal have to supply such copies?
  24. Is there a limit on how many additional copies of unofficial transcripts a student can ask for or can Mount Royal charge for re-issuing the statement?
  25. How should a public body deal with telephone inquiries from students about information about their own record?
  26. In dealing with appeals, complaints and requests for refunds, information must sometimes be obtained on students' attendance and performance and student loan information. Can this collection continue under the Act?
  27. Can Mount Royal use the SIN for student identification?
  28. What responsibility does Mount Royal have to ensure that the student has actually signed consent to release personal information?
  29. How long must application forms for unsuccessful candidates or unsolicited application forms be kept?

Administrative issues

  1. How do you handle a request for information that has been provided to Mount Royal by an external source?
    Any information in the custody or control of Mount Royal is accessible under the FOIP Act even when it is provided by external sources. The information should be examined carefully to determine whether disclosure would be harmful to the business interests of the external source [Section 16], harmful to personal privacy if it contains personal information [Section 17] or if it meets one of the other mandatory exceptions in the Act. If you believe it falls into either of the above two categories, it may be necessary to notify the third party about the request and allow for representations to be made about disclosure. [Section 30] The FOIP Coordinator carries out this action.

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  1. When does Mount Royal notify third parties about information requests?
    Section 30sets out when Mount Royal must give notification to a third party. If Mount Royal is considering giving an applicant access to a record containing the third party's personal or business information, then notice must be given. The third party has 20 days to consent to disclosure or provide reasons why the record should not be disclosed. If access to the record is not going to be provided, notification is not required but is recommended as a courtesy unless it would be onerous.

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  1. What may a public body ask for to determine whether an applicant cannot afford payment of fees charged to respond to a FOIP request?
    Section 93(1)(4) allows the head of a public body to waive all or part of a fee if the applicant cannot afford the payment or for any other reason it is fair to excuse payment. Mount Royal can ask an applicant to provide a submission to support a request for such a fee waiver. It should address the issues of need for the information, alternative sources of the information and the reasons for an inability to pay. The FOIP coordinator should also make every effort to narrow the request or find alternate ways of locating and disclosing information whenever possible.

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  1. Is it appropriate to circulate a monthly listing of FOIP requests, including the name of the requester, to internal departments or the board of governors?
    NO, it is not appropriate to reveal personal information about applicants unless an employee needs to know that information in order to deal with the request. [Section 40(1)(h)] If the requester is a business or organization, that information can be disclosed as only individuals have personal privacy rights. However, this practice is not recommended. Provision of a description of the request and the type of applicant can be provided internally or to the Board.

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  1. Should media requests for information be treated in a particular manner?
    NO, the source of a request or the occupation of an applicant has no bearing on how a request is handled or what information is disclosed. Because the results of the application are likely to be published,Mount Royal's Communications Department and the Office of the President will need to be informed of what is being released, why material is being withheld and when the release is taking place. This will allow them to be prepared for questions from the media or the public.

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Career/student employment issues

  1. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
    NO, Section 40 does not contain discretion for such disclosure. The student would have to consent to release of information. This consent may take the form of permission to contact Mount Royal or a named individual as a part of the student's application for employment. If this is the case, Mount Royal should require a copy of the application or that part of it which authorizes the potential employer to seek information. Failing that, specific written consent is needed from the student and Mount Royal should disclose only factual information or opinion information that the person answering the request is qualified to disclose. This information should be the minimum required to meet the request of the employer.

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  1. Should students be allowed to access evaluation forms completed by employers who accept students on placement?
    YES, these evaluation forms are a part of their educational history and are the personal information of the student. [Section 1(1)(n)(vii) and (viii)] The evaluation may contain personal information about other people and this may have to be severed before release of the student's own information. Generally speaking, the name of the evaluator should also be provided to the student because that person would have completed the form as a part of his or her employment responsibilities and disclosure of the name would not be an unreasonable invasion of privacy. [Section 17(2)(e)]

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  1. Can a professional body or local apprenticeship council force their clients to sign a blanket release so that they can have access to University records on students they sponsor or co-ordinate at Mount Royal?
    The relationship between the student and his or her sponsor is not the concern of Mount Royal. Mount Royal has the discretion to disclose only specific information that the student has consented to release to the sponsor. [Section 40(1)(d)] This consent has to be in writing and must specify to whom the personal information may be disclosed and how the personal information may be used. [FOIP Regulation, Section 6] Mount Royal should work with sponsoring organizations by providing a suitable consent form that they can use with sponsored students.

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  1. Is it a misuse of information when a student obtains an evaluation provided by an employer and then uses it as a reference? Should the employer sign an appropriate waiver?
    NO, the information contained in the evaluation is the personal information of the student and can be used by the student for any purpose. However, Mount Royal did not collect the evaluative material for this purpose and, if it wishes to ensure that it is not used for this purpose, it can include a statement on the evaluation form that the employer completes, and make it clear to the student that it is not being disclosed for that purpose. This will not prevent the student using it as a reference.

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Counselling issues

  1. Can information on the status of a high school graduate's application to the University be released to a high school counsellor?
    NO, the individual would have to supply specific written consent for the release of such information. It would be better for the applicant to obtain the information needed and provide it to the counsellor.

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  1. What is the legal responsibility of a counsellor versus Mount Royal with respect to personal information records?
    The FOIP Act defines "employee" as including a person retained under contract to perform services for a public body. [Section 1(1)(e)] Therefore, whether or not the counsellor is a paid employee of Mount Royal does not affect responsibilities under the Act. If the counsellor is a contractor, the contract should specify who has custody and control of personal information and set out rules to ensure the counsellor complies with the Act. If a request is received for personal information contained in counselling records, the counsellor is legally obligated to provide those records to Mount Royal and should assist the FOIP Coordinator in making an assessment on release of the records.

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Faculty issues

  1. Can student grades be posted using student numbers as identifiers?
    Grade lists cannot be posted without Mount Royal being able to guarantee anonymity. Any number of methods can be used to do this, ensuring that only individual students will be able to find their own grades. If student numbers are used, they should be listed randomly. If a class were so small that grade holders could be easily identified despite any process to conceal identities, then grades would not be posted.

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  1. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
    Yes. Section 40(1)(b) permits disclosure of personal information if it would not be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's personal privacy. Under Section 17(2)(j), it would not be considered an unreasonable invasion of a former student's privacy to disclose that he/she had been enrolled at Mount Royal or in a particular program; that he/she had received an honour or award (including a degree, diploma or certificate) granted by Mount Royal; that he/she had attended or participated in a public event or activity related to Mount Royal; or that he/she had graduated from Mount Royal. However, this type of information should not be disclosed if the former student or graduate has asked that the information not be disclosed (Section 17(3))..

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  1. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
    NO. Mount Royal can only disclose personal information in accordance with Section 40(1)(b). Lists of graduates, including the names of their hometowns, contain personal information and can only be disclosed with consent [Section 40(1)(d)]. Consent for publication can be obtained at the time students apply for graduation.

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  1. Can the Registrar release a student's address/phone number to a faculty member who is teaching the student?
    This information would only be supplied on a "need to know" basis. Section 40(1)(h) allows for disclosure to a faculty member if the information is necessary for the performance of his or her duties. The onus is on the faculty member to show evidence that this information is necessary.

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  1. Can a faculty member ask students for personal information?
    YES, but only in accordance with Sections 33(c) and 34(2) of the Act. The faculty member would have to show that the information relates directly to and is necessary for an operating program or activity of Mount Royal. He or she would also have to inform the student of this purpose and the use to which the information was going to be put. The faculty member should discuss this with the FOIP Coordinator prior to asking for the personal information as it may be necessary to keep a record of the purpose and use of the information and report this to the Minister of Labour.

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  1. Can laboratory reports be left in a lab for the students to pick up on their own?
    NO, laboratory reports, like any other test or report are a part of a student's educational history and are his or her own personal information. If they are to be left for pick up, they would have to be in sealed envelopes addressed to the student and marked "Personal and confidential". This action is reasonable protection against unauthorised disclosure of the information.

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  1. Is it permissible to leave reports containing students grades on an unattended desk?
    NO, this would not meet the requirement to protect personal information by making reasonable security arrangements against unauthorised access or disclosure of that information. [Section 38] Records which contain personal information should always be kept secure or under supervision and placed in files or locked drawers when unattended.

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  1. Do the personal notes on an examination paper belong to the student who fills in the spaces between questions with their answers?
    YES, personal information includes an individual's personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else. [Section 1(1)(n)(ix)] If the examination paper is going to be used again in the near future and Mount Royal can document this fact, then the questions may be severed from the record before releasing the personal information to the student. [Section 4(1)(g) & Section 26(b)]

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  1. Can students access and receive copies of their own previously completed examination papers?
    YES, the answers to examination questions are a part of the student's educational history and are personal information. [Section 1(1)(n)(vii)] If the examination paper is going to be used again in the near future and Mount Royal can document this fact, then the questions may be severed from the record before releasing the answers to the student. [Section 4(1)(g) and Section 26(b)]

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  1. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
    NO, Section 40 does not contain discretion for such disclosure. The student would have to consent to release of information. This consent may take the form of permission to contact Mount Royal or a named individual as a part of the student's application for employment. If this is the case, Mount Royal should require a copy of the application or that part of it which authorises the potential employer to seek information. Failing that, specific written consent is needed from the student and Mount Royal should disclose only factual information or opinion information that the person answering the request is qualified to disclose. This information should be the minimum required to meet the request of the employer.

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  1. Can I withhold personal notes made during an interview with a student/staff member?
    NO, any information about the student or staff member is that person's personal information and, therefore, accessible under the Act. [Section 1(1)(n)(viii) and 6(1)] This would not apply if the notes contained the interviewed person's opinions about a third party. [Section 1(1)(n)(ix)] This right to access is not unencumbered and there may be occasions when information could be withheld if it would be harmful to someone's health or safety, harmful to law enforcement, or could be construed as advice to another official in Mount Royal. Because this could be a complex decision, the advice of the FOIP coordinator should always be sought.

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  1. Are the anecdotal notes made by faculty members about students in the clinical portion of the Nursing program considered personal information?
    YES, anecdotal notes and opinions about a person are that person's own personal information. [Section 1(1)(n)(viii) and 6(1)] This right to access is not unencumbered and there may be occasions when information could be withheld if it would be harmful to someone's health or safety, harmful to law enforcement, or could be construed as advice to an official in Mount Royal. Because this could be a complex decision, the advice of the FOIP coordinator should always be sought.

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  1. Is the student entitled to view evaluative opinions of the selection committee(s) for admission/ awards?
    YES, generally speaking evaluative opinions are the personal information of the person being evaluated. [Section 1(1)(n)(viii) and 6(1)]. If the committee consists solely, or has a majority of University staff, then Section 24(1)(a) may be used to withhold advice, but cannot apply to a statement of the reasons for a decision that is made in the exercise of a discretionary power. [Section 24(2)(b)]

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  1. For a variety of reasons, many staff members have access, via computer or hard copy, to student information. Can we assume the normal access is "consistent purpose"?
    NO, the fact that access to student information is available does not condone unauthorised access to that information. Staff should only be accessing student information if they have a need to use that information as a part of their job responsibilities. "Consistent purpose" is defined in Section 40 of the Act as having a reasonable and direct connection to the original purpose for collection of the information and being necessary for operating a legally authorised program of Mount Royal.

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  1. Is it permissible to post in the halls of Mount Royal the student names and numbers of those who are "eligible to graduate" to ensure that students know whether or not they have successfully completed or are registered in all the courses required for graduation?
    NO, lists cannot be posted without Mount Royal being able to guarantee anonymity. Any number of methods can be used to do this, ensuring that only individual students will be able to find their own information. If student numbers are used, they should be listed randomly. Administrative convenience is not an excuse for disclosing information that needs to be protected.

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  1. Is Mount Royal obliged under FOIP to release exam questions and answers? If so, when and under what circumstances?
    YES, Mount Royal must release questions unless it can show that they are going to be used on an examination on test in the near future. [Section 4(1)(g)] It may also refuse to disclose details of specific tests to be given if disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the use or results of particular tests. [Section 26(b)]

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  1. If written final exams have to be retained for one year after they are written, can students appeal their final grades up to one year after the exam in written?
    NO, the requirement to retain final exams for a period of one year is to allow an individual to examine this record and see the information used to make a decision about him or her. It does not affect Mount Royal's policy on appeal of grades.

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  1.  What responsibility does Mount Royal have to ensure that the student has actually signed consent to release personal information?
    Generally, Mount Royal will assume the consent is valid. It should ask for a copy of the consent statement and identification of the person holding the consent, and should keep these on file with a notation of disclosure. If there is any reason to suspect that the consent may not be valid, the student should be contacted to confirm consent.

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Financial issues

  1. By what authority can the finance department release student information to a collection agency when a student has outstanding accounts?
    Section 40(1)(k)
    allows disclosure for the purpose of collecting a fine or debt owing by an individual to Mount Royal or to an assignee of Mount Royal. A notation of the disclosure should be placed on the accounts receivable record.

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  1. What information may be released to the collection agency?
    Mount Royal may only release information to a collection agency for the purpose of collecting a fine or debt owing by an individual to the Government of Alberta or to a public body or to an assignee of either of them. Therefore Mount Royal should release only that information needed to enable the collection agency to do its job. This would likely mean name, home address and telephone number and, if the student is working, business address and telephone number, as well as the amount owing and the reason if it is a collection on behalf of Mount Royal. [Section 40 (1)(k)]

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  1. Where financial reports are required on completion of a licensed event are they releasable to the public?
    YES, reports on a licensed event such as a fund raising effort would normally be routinely available. However, if these reports contain information on other aspects of Mount Royal, independent operators or affiliated organizations (e.g. student association, Calgary Youth Orchestra Society) then they must be reviewed to ensure there is no information within them that is subject to mandatory withholding. [Section 16 or 17]

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  1. Can full details of a contract, including personal information, be disclosed to Revenue Canada for the purpose of tax evasion investigations?
    YES, Section 40(1)(e) allows for disclosure to comply with another Act, and Section 40(1)(q) allows for disclosure for law enforcement purposes. In either case, the official from Revenue Canada would have to provide proof of identity and the specific authority under which the information is being requested.

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  1. If a request were made for detailed legal invoices, what information on the invoices would be released?
    If a legal invoice includes only basic information such as dates covered by the billing and the total amount, it should be released. Otherwise, it should be examined carefully to determine whether it contains information that would be subject to legal privilege [Section 27], information that could harm the economic interests of Mount Royal [Section 25] or information that would be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy [Section 17]. Details on the invoice could divulge the strategy or grounds on which a legal case is being based.

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Human Resource issues

  1. Can I withhold personal notes made during an interview with a student/staff member?
    NO, any information about the student or staff member is that person's personal information and, therefore, accessible under the Act. [Section 1(1)(n)(viii) and 6(1)] This would not apply if the notes contained the interviewed person's opinions about a third party. [Section 1(1)(n)(ix)] This right to access is not unencumbered and there may be occasions when information could be withheld if it would be harmful to someone's health or safety, harmful to law enforcement, or could be construed as advice to another official in Mount Royal. Because this could be a complex decision, the advice of the FOIP coordinator should always be sought.

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  1. When applying for a posted position, is the information contained in the application submitted to Human Resources affected by the Act?
    YES, the application is being submitted in response to a request for applications. A decision will be made on whether to short list or interview the applicant based on the information contained in the application. When personal information is used to make a decision about an individual, the information must be retained for a period of at least one year to allow the individual an opportunity to review the record and request corrections to it. [Section 35(b)]

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  1. Performance reviews are carried out annually with accompanying documentation. Are these documents personal information and subject to access? Can they be shared with the President, Human Resources etc as "consistent purpose"?
    YES, performance reviews are personal information as they form a part of an individual's employment history. [Section 1(1)(n)(vii] Disclosure, in response to a FOIP request, of information within the review, including accompanying documentation, would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy as it relates to employment history and is a personnel evaluation conducted in a formal manner. [Section 17(4)(d) and (f)]. Disclosure would be permissible if the employee or department of Mount Royal had a need to know the information to carry out their job or to manage the human resources of Mount Royal. [Section 40(1)(h) and (x)] It is unlikely that information would be shared with the President unless he needed that information to make a decision about the individual.

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  1. Can Mount Royal confirm, in response to a telephone inquiry, whether an individual is employed with Mount Royal and their specific salary?
    Section 40 lists the only circumstances under which information may be disclosed about an individual. To disclose personal information means to release, give or transmit that information by any means, including verbally, to another public body or anyone other than the person concerned. In the absence of a formal request, employee consent would be required unless the requester can show that the request meets one of the specific circumstances in the Act. If a formal request is made, the employment status of the person can be disclosed, but not a specific salary. Mount Royal may, by policy and by seeking employee consent, make release of certain employee information routine unless there are health and safety reasons to preclude this.

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  1. Can full details of a contract, including personal information, be disclosed to Revenue Canada for the purpose of tax evasion investigations?
    YES, Section 40(1)(e) allows for disclosure to comply with another Act, and Section 40(1)(q) allows for disclosure for law enforcement purposes. In either case, the official from Revenue Canada would have to provide proof of identity and the specific authority under which the information is being requested.

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  1. Can personal information be disclosed to the Human Resources Development Canada if they inquire about an employee?
    YES, Section 40(1)(e) allows for disclosure to comply with another Act, and the Unemployment Insurance Act provides authority to collect information for administration of the Act. Discretion should be exercised to ensure that only relevant personal information is disclosed. The requester should be asked to supply proof of identity and authority for requesting the information. It would be very rare to disclose an entire file in such circumstances.

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  1. Can an employer contact anyone they want for a reference check without consent from the employee or job applicant?
    YES, Section 34 (1)(n) allows Mount Royal to collect personal information indirectly for the purpose of managing or administering personnel. Once the information is collected it must be used solely for determining the individual's suitability for the position for which the reference is being collected, or for a consistent purpose. Generally, Mount Royal would not contact just anyone for a reference check without the employee or the candidate's consent.

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  1. If Mount Royal is provided with an employee's consent to release their employee records to WCB, is it expected to sever third party information?
    Mount Royal would have to consider each item in the records. The employee has only consented to release of his or her own personal information. Any third party information in the records must be considered in the context of the request from WCB. If WCB can show cause why that information is needed, Mount Royal has the discretion to release it under Section 40(1)(f) if the Workers Compensation Act requires or authorizes such disclosure.

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  1. Could an employee's own personal information be withheld by Mount Royal in cases where the employee has made a claim against Mount Royal?
    YES, although individuals generally have a right to information about themselves, in limited circumstances this may be withheld. Mount Royal may refuse to release information that would have an adverse impact on an insurance claim or a suit against the University. Section 25(1)(c) allows Mount Royal to refuse to disclose information that could reasonably be expected to harm its economic interests and, specifically, result in financial loss to Mount Royal or interfere with negotiations to settle the case. Note that Mount Royal must be able to demonstrate the likelihood of harm to its interests.

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  1. If a severance document indicates that the parties will not release information and Mount Royal is forced to do so under FOIP, can the previous employee sue?
    NO, Section 91 protects Mount Royal or any person acting for Mount Royal from legal proceedings for damages resulting from any action taken in good faith under the Act. An agreement by the parties to a severance agreement not to discuss the agreement in public is not the same as a confidentiality agreement. Whether or not Mount Royal can be forced to disclose severance agreements is not yet clear and will likely depend on the degree to which such an agreement is discretionary on the part of the signatories.

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  1. What personal information on an employee can be provided to employee associations and under what section of the Act would this occur?
    Section 40(1)(e) allows for disclosure to the faculty association and staff association to the extent that it is required within the agreements between Mount Royal and those associations. Section 40(1)(o) allows for additional disclosure to the representative of a bargaining agent who has been authorized in writing by an employee to make an inquiry about the employee's own information.

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  1. Representatives from Human Resources Development Canada (E.I.) requests access to all information on the dismissal of an employee. Does mount Royal have to provide access to the complete file?
    NO, Section 40(e) does not require disclosure; it just provides discretion to disclose personal information. The requirements of the request may be met by disclosing some of the information in a record. Mount Royal should clarify with HRDC what information is required and determine if disclosure of specific records would meet this need. Any information about third parties on the file would have to be severed.

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  1. Can personal information be collected about an employee in an internal investigation without their permission?
    YES, in certain circumstances this can be done. Section 34(1)(g) allows for indirect collection for the purpose of law enforcement, Section 34(1)(k) for management and administration of personnel and Section 34(3) is an override section that applies if the head of the public body believes compliance with collection rules would result in collection of inaccurate information. Law enforcement does not include internal disciplinary investigations or workplace harassment investigations. Information in connection with such investigations would be collected under the provisions of disclosure under Section 40(1)(h) and Section 34(1)(b) as being necessary for the performance of the duties of the person collecting the information.

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  1. What can be withheld regarding internal investigations of staff misconduct? Who has a right of access to this information?
    Generally, information about such an investigation consists mainly of personal information about the parties involved and would only be available to the individuals themselves, However and individual's right to access their own information must be balanced against the possibility of harm to another person's health and safety and harm to investigative techniques. Section 20(1) provides for a discretionary exception to disclosure where the disclosure could harm a law enforcement mater; harm the effectiveness of investigative techniques; or reveal the identity of a confidential information source.

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  1. How long must application forms for unsuccessful candidates or unsolicited application forms be kept?
    If Mount Royal uses the application forms to make a decision about the individual, it must be retained for at least one year. If the form was used to make a decision about hiring, or not hiring, then it must be retained. Applications or resumes that come from unsolicited sources would only be retained if they were considered in the process of a personnel search. Mount Royal's transitory records policy addresses this issue.

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  1. How should Mount Royal respond to a request for information on an employee's wage loss as a result of a motor vehicle accident from (1) a lawyer, (2) an insurance company?
    If the lawyer indicates in writing that he or she is acting on behalf of the employee, Mount Royal may disclose information to the lawyer in accordance with Section 17(2)(a). This is treated as a formal request under the Act. A lawyer acting on behalf of the client is deemed to be the client, and no separate written permission is required from the client. However, Mount Royal can ask for proof of the solicitor-client relationship either in the form of a letter from the client indicating that the lawyer is acting on his or her behalf, on a copy of the undertaking with the client. This is not a letter of consent; it is a letter indicating the lawyer's right to act for them. If the request were from another professional such as an accountant, written consent would be required. Personal information can only be released to the insurance company with the consent of the employee, identifying what information is to be released, to whom and the use to be made of it. [Section 40(1) and FOIP Regulation Section 6]

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  1. Will a request for an individual's own personal information always be a formal request under the Act?
    If the request is made in writing it will always be a formal request under the Act. Requests for personal information cannot be categorized as routine release except in limited circumstances. This is because the records must be examined to ensure that they are relevant to the request and that personal information of other parties is severed if it would be an unreasonable invasion of their privacy. Mount Royal may organize its employee files so that they contain only personal information related to an individual, with no information that the public body may wish to exercise discretion over releasing such as confidential evaluations [Section 19]. It may also organise its student records so that a student has access to factual information about him or herself. In these circumstances, a policy can be used to routinely release this type of information.

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  1. An operational review process provides an evaluation type report by staff of various services. The review team has published a summary report without using names. However, if a supervisor whose services are being reviewed has access to the review notes, there could be misinterpretations or hurt feelings. Are the notes considered personal information and therefore accessible?
    All records of Mount Royal are accessible under the FOIP Act [Section 6(1)] whether or not they contain personal information about an applicant. If the notes are about a service provided and are not opinions or evaluative material about an identifiable individual they would not be personal information. Misinterpretation or hurt feelings are not exceptions under the Act and care should be taken in writing notes to write in such a way that the contents cannot be misinterpreted. Notes should be factual or, where opinion is expressed, the person expressing the opinion should be qualified to do so and be prepared to defend that opinion.

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  1. Will internal memos that contain recommendations and refer to an individual by name be available to that individual?
    Generally information about an individual is available to that individual, but this is not an unfettered right. Discretion exists to withhold information in the following circumstances:
  • When, in the opinion of a qualified professional, the information could reasonably be expected to result in harm to the applicant's health or safety. [Section 18(2)]
  • When the information consists of a confidential evaluation of the applicant compiled solely to determine suitability for employment. This would not usually apply to memos written by another staff member. [Section 19]
  • When the information consists of advice or recommendations related to the applicant. (E.g. disciplinary recommendations) [Section 24(1)(a)]
  • When the information is contained in plans relating to the management of personnel or the administration of the University that have not yet been implemented (E.g. human resource plans or downsizing options) [Section 24(1)(d)]

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  1. For a variety of reasons, many staff members have access, via computer or hard copy, to student information. Can we assume the normal access is "consistent purpose"?
    NO, the fact that access to student information is available does not condone unauthorized access to that information. Staff should only be accessing student information if they have a need to use that information as a part of their job responsibilities. "Consistent purpose" is defined in Section 40 of the Act as having a reasonable and direct connection to the original purpose for collection of the information and being necessary for operating a legally authorized program of Mount Royal.

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Materials management/purchasing issues

  1. Can copies of contracts with consultants, engineers, contractors be released?
    YES, copies of contracts would be routinely disclosed after they have been awarded on the premise that the public has the right to know who has been engaged to do work for Mount Royal and how much is being paid for the work. Some information in the contract, or in supplementary documentation, must be withheld if it meets the three-part test in Section 16 for harm to business interests of the contractor. Information may also be withheld if Mount Royal can show that its disclosure could reasonably harm its economic interests, result in financial loss or interfere with negotiations. [Section 25] Examples of such information would include unit pricing; actual wages paid to employees of the contractor or proprietary information.

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  1. Can suppliers have access to evaluation documents of bidders' proposals?
    Public tender documents and evaluation criteria are routinely available. Evaluation notes, summaries, weighting factors and other evaluation documents are based on information supplied by the contractor but are created by Mount Royal. As a result not all of these records qualify for an exception under Section 16 (Harm to business interests). However, some information may be withheld under Section 19 if they are references given in confidence about the contractor's suitability or confirmation of qualifications. There may also be reason to withhold parts of the record if they reflect the advice of recommendations of employees as to a suggested course of action. The names and position titles of employees who conducted the evaluation would not be considered as personal information because they performed the assessment as a part of their duties.

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  1. Should a public body release invitation tender lists to suppliers?
    Invitations to tender should be routinely available to the public unless Mount Royal policy requires payment of a fee for such lists, in which case they would be available for sale.

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Public affairs/alumni issues

  1. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
    Yes. Section 40(1)(b) permits disclosure of personal information if it would not be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's personal privacy. Under Section 17(2)(j), it would not be considered an unreasonable invasion of a former student's privacy to disclose that he/she had been enrolled at Mount Royal or in a particular program; that he/she had received an honour or award (including a degree, diploma or certificate) granted by the University; that he/she had attended or participated in a public event or activity related to Mount Royal; or that he/she had graduated from Mount Royal. However, this type of information should not be disclosed if the former student or graduate has asked that the information not be disclosed (Section 17(3)).

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  1. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
    No. Mount Royal can disclose the names of graduates to the media. Under Sections 40(1)(b) and Section 17(2)(j), the disclosure of this information would not be considered an unreasonable invasion of the graduates' personal privacy. However, disclosing the names of their hometowns would require the graduates' consent. Consent for publication can be obtained at the time students apply for graduation.

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  1. Is a verbal consent to use photographs for promotion adequate or should waivers be signed where students are identified or identifiable?
    The Act makes no provision for verbal consent. If the program in which the student is enrolled or participating is one where such promotion is a reasonable use of a photograph, then this use should be stated in the disclosure statement provided at the time of collection. (E.g. sports teams, music programs, fine arts programs) If the promotion is not a regular part of the program, specific written consent should be obtained prior to use of a photograph.

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Records/retention issues

  1. When applying for a posted position, is the information contained in the application submitted to Human Resources affected by the Act?
    YES, the application is being submitted in response to a request for applications. A decision will be made on whether to short list or interview the applicant based on the information contained in the application. When personal information is used to make a decision about an individual, the information must be retained for a period of at least one year to allow the individual an opportunity to review the record and request corrections to it. [Section 35(b)]

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  1. What are the limitations on researchers using University records?
    Use of Mount Royal records for research purposes is governed by Mount Royal policy on research and data sharing. When records contain personal information that can identify individuals, they must be stripped of any personal identifiers or the researcher has to apply to Mount Royal for permission to use the records. The researcher will have to show that the research purpose cannot reasonably be accomplished unless the information is provided in individually identifiable form; that the record linkage will not be harmful to the individuals the information is about, and that the benefits to be gained are clearly in the public interest. The researcher will have to sign a research agreement under Section 42 of the Act.

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  1. What legal obligations exist regarding the keeping of records?
    The FOIP Act does not prohibit the transfer, storage or destruction of records in accordance with Mount Royal's by-laws as authorized by the Board of Governors. A Records Retention and Disposition Schedule will govern how long records have to be kept and the manner of disposition. Personal information that is used by Mount Royal to make a decision that directly affects the individual the information is about must be kept for at least one year after using it. [Section 35(b)]

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  1. Can personal information collected on behalf of Mount Royal be permanently stored at a location other than Mount Royal?
    YES, the FOIP Act does not prohibit the transfer, storage or destruction of records in accordance with Mount Royals by-laws as authorized by the Board of Governors. Any record over which Mount Royal has control is subject to the Act, irrespective of where it is stored or who has actual custody of the record.

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  1. Is Mount Royal required to create a record in a different form than that which it currently has? I.e. information contained in several databases rather than as one record?
    YES, in some circumstances. When there is a formal FOIP request, Section 10(2) requires a public body to create a record when it can readily do so using existing hardware and software and technical expertise. This requirement is further limited by the requirement that fulfilling this obligation should not unduly interfere with the operations of Mount Royal. The Act applies only to existing records. If the information does not exist in the format required or is not already recorded in one or more records then a new record does not have to be created.

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  1. Will a request for an individual's own personal information always be a formal request under the Act?
    Although a student, employee or others may submit a written request for their own personal information under the Act, the institution may obtain the agreement of the applicant to treat the request as an informal one (outside the Act). However, requests for personal information cannot be categorized as routine release except in limited circumstance. This is because the records must be examined to ensure that they are relevant to the request and that personal information of other parties is severed if it would be an unreasonable invasion of their privacy Mount Royal may organise its employee files so that they contain only personal information related to an individual, with no information that the public body may wish to exercise discretion over releasing such as confidential evaluations [Section 19]. It may also organise its student records so that a student has access to factual information about him or herself. In these circumstances, a policy can be used to routinely release this type of information.

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  1. Is a public body required to sever libelous comments from letters of complaint before releasing them under FOIP?
    If the applicant is the person about whom the comments are made, there is no authority for the University to sever such comments prior to releasing the record. However, Mount Royal may want to consider Section 17(5)(e) and other sub-sections in determining whether to release the name or other information that would identify the complainant. If the applicant is not the person about whom the comments are made, the information is the personal information of the individual the comments are about and may be severed in accordance with Section 17.

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  1. Can access to a record be denied under the Act because the requester already has a copy of the requested record?
    NO, the Act provides a general right of access and there is no provision for refusal of access on the basis that the requester already has a copy of the record. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate with an applicant in these circumstances if it would reduce the cost of the request of the amount of information being released. If such requests become repetitious or systematic and legitimately interfere with the operations of Mount Royal or amount to an abuse of the right of access, the Commissioner can be asked to look at the case. The Commissioner has the power under Section 54 to grant permission to disregard such requests.

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  1. If records have been sent for destruction but not yet destroyed when an access request is received, does the public body have to include such records in the request process?
    YES, when a request for records is received all records pertaining to the request are frozen and no further actions can be taken to destroy the requested records if they have been scheduled for destruction. This would include electronic mail and other electronic records not yet deleted from the system. Records cannot be destroyed until 30 days after the Commissioner has released his order (unless a judicial review is requested) or 61 days after release of the records to the applicant if no request for review is made to the Commissioner.

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Student issues

  1. Can personal information (such as telephone number, timetable, address etc) of students or staff be released to a third party?
    The business address and telephone number of a staff member is not considered an unreasonable invasion of privacy. The timetable of a staff member could be considered to be a part of that person's "employment responsibilities" and would thus also not be considered an unreasonable invasion of privacy. [Section 17(2)(e)] However, it would be prudent to consult with the staff member involved to ensure that such release would not reasonably be harmful to his or her health or safety. [Section 18(1)(a)] Personal information of a student can only be released with the consent of the student or in accordance with Section 40 which gives discretion for disclosure in limited circumstances.

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  1. Is a student's timetable considered personal information and not releasable without consent?
    No, a timetable is information about a student's educational history [Section 1(1)(n)(vii)] would also contain the student's name and, likely, students number [Section 1(1)(n)(i) & (iv)]. Consent should be obtained before release unless discretion can be exercised under Section 40.

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  1. Can student grades be posted using student numbers as identifiers?
    Grade lists cannot be posted without Mount Royal being able to guarantee anonymity. Any number of methods can be used to do this, ensuring that only individual students will be able to find their own grades. If student numbers are used, they should be listed randomly. If a class were so small that grade holders could be easily identified despite any process to conceal identities, then grades would not be posted.

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  1. Can we release information on former students/graduates?
    Yes. Section 40(1)(b) permits disclosure of personal information if it would not be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's personal privacy. Under Section 17(2)(j), it would not be considered an unreasonable invasion of a former student's privacy to disclose that he/she had been enrolled at Mount Royal or in a particular program; that he/she had received an honour or award (including a degree, diploma or certificate) granted by Mount Royal; that he/she had attended or participated in a public event or activity related to Mount Royal; or that he/she had graduated from Mount Royal. However, this type of information should not be disclosed if the former student or graduate has asked that the information not be disclosed (Section 17(3)).

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  1. Can we continue to submit to the media the hometowns of our graduates without their consent?
    No. Mount Royal can disclose the names of graduates to the media. Under Sections 40(1)(b) and Section 17(2)(j), the disclosure of this information would not be considered an unreasonable invasion of the graduates' personal privacy. However, disclosing the names of their hometowns would require the graduates' consent. Consent for publication can be obtained at the time students apply for graduation.

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  1. Can the Registrar release a student's address/phone number to a faculty member who is teaching the student?
    This information would only be supplied on a "need to know" basis. Section 40(1)(g) allows for disclosure to a faculty member if the information is necessary for the performance of his or her duties. The onus is on the faculty member to show evidence that this information is necessary.

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  1. Can a faculty member ask students for personal information?
    YES, but only in accordance with Sections 33(c) and 34(2) of the Act. The faculty member would have to show that the information relates directly to and is necessary for an operating program or activity of Mount Royal. He or she would also have to inform the student of this purpose and the use to which the information was going to be put. The faculty member should discuss this with the FOIP Coordinator prior to asking for the personal information as it may be necessary to keep a record of the purpose and use of the information and report this to the Minister of Labour.

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  1. Can the Registrar release a student's phone number to a Mount Royal counsellor?
    This information would only be supplied on a "need to know" basis. Section 40(1)(h) allows for disclosure to an employee of Mount Royal if the information is necessary for the performance of his or her duties. The onus is on the counsellor to show evidence that this information is necessary.

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  1. Can Mount Royal collect third party information from students, e.g. parents' date of birth/education?
    Section 34
    of the Act governs the collection of personal information. In order for Mount Royal to collect such information about third parties, it would have to be able to prove that the information was necessary to determine or verify the eligibility of the student to participate in a program or receive a benefit, service or product from the University. [Section 34(1)(k)] If it cannot do this, then the parents would have to authorize collection from their son or daughter, or the information would have to be collected directly from the parents (e.g. credit card information). Mount Royal should take care to collect only that information which is related directly to and necessary for student admission and attendance at the University.

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  1. Do the personal notes on an examination paper belong to the student who fills in the spaces between questions with their answers?
    YES, personal information includes an individual's personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else. [Section 1(1)(n)(ix)] If the examination paper is going to be used again in the near future and Mount Royal can document this fact, then the questions may be severed from the record before releasing the personal information to the student. [Section 4(1)(d) & Section 25(b)]

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  1. Can students access and receive copies of their own previously completed examination papers?
    YES, the answers to examination questions are a part of the student's educational history and are personal information. [Section 1(1)(n)(vii)] If the examination paper is going to be used again in the near future and Mount Royal can document this fact, then the questions may be severed from the record before releasing the answers to the student. [Section 4(1)(g) and Section 26(b)]

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  1. Can information be given to potential student employers who are making reference checks?
    NO, Section 40 does not contain discretion for such disclosure. The student would have to consent to release of information. This consent may take the form of permission to contact Mount Royal or a named individual as a part of the student's application for employment. If this is the case, Mount Royal should require a copy of the application or that part of it which authorizes the potential employer to seek information. Failing that, specific written consent is needed from the student and Mount Royal should disclose only factual information or opinion information that the person answering the request is qualified to disclose. This information should be the minimum required to meet the request of the employer.

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  1. Should students be allowed to access evaluation forms completed by employers who accept students on placement?
    YES, these evaluation forms are a part of their educational history and are the personal information of the student. [Section 1(1)(n)(vii) and (viii)] The evaluation may contain personal information about other people and this may have to be severed before release of the student's own information. Generally speaking, the name of the evaluator should also be provided to the student because that person would have completed the form as a part of his or her employment responsibilities and disclosure of the name would not be an unreasonable invasion of privacy. [Section 17(2)(e)]

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  1. Can a professional body or local apprenticeship council force their clients to sign a blanket release so that they can have access to University records on students they sponsor or co-ordinate at the University?
    The relationship between the student and his or her sponsor is not the concern of Mount Royal. Mount Royal has the discretion to disclose only specific information that the student has consented to release to the sponsor. [Section 40(1)(d)] This consent has to be in writing and must specify to whom the personal information may be disclosed and how the personal information may be used. [FOIP Regulation, Section 6] Mount Royal should work with sponsoring organizations by providing a suitable consent form that they can use with sponsored students.

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  1. Is it a misuse of information when a student obtains an evaluation provided by an employer and then uses it as a reference? Should the employer sign an appropriate waiver?
    NO, the information contained in the evaluation is the personal information of the student and can be used by the student for any purpose. However, Mount Royal did not collect the evaluative material for this purpose and, if it wishes to ensure that it is not used for this purpose, it can include a statement on the evaluation form that the employer completes, and make it clear to the student that it is not being disclosed for that purpose. This will not prevent the student using it as a reference.

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  1. Is the student entitled to view evaluative opinions of the selection committee(s) for admission/ awards?
    YES, generally speaking evaluative opinions are the personal information of the person being evaluated. [Section 1(1)(n)(viii) and 6(1)]. If the committee consists solely, or has a majority of Mount Royal staff, then Section 24(1)(a) may be used to withhold advice, but cannot apply to a statement of the reasons for a decision that is made in the exercise of a discretionary power. [Section 24(2)(b)]

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  1. Can the registrar confirm that a student is registered in a specific program at Mount Royal in response to a third party inquiry?
    YES, unless the third party whom the information is about has requested the information not be disclosed [Section 17(3)], it would not be an invasion of a third party's personal privacy to disclose enrolment in a school of an educational body or in a program offered by a post secondary educational body [Section 17(2)(j)(i)]. There may also be cases where disclosure is permitted under Section 40 such as for the purpose of complying with another Act, to determine eligibility for a program or benefit or to assist in a law enforcement investigation.

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  1. Is it permissible to post in the halls of Mount Royal the student names and numbers of those who are "eligible to graduate" to ensure that students know whether or not they have successfully completed or are registered in all the courses required for graduation?
    NO, lists cannot be posted without Mount Royal being able to guarantee anonymity. Any number of methods can be used to do this, ensuring that only individual students will be able to find their own information. If student numbers are used, they should be listed randomly. Administrative convenience is not an excuse for disclosing information that needs to be protected.

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  1. If high school grades in selected prerequisite subjects become part of Mount Royal record or transcript through the admission process, can they be released to students or to third parties at the student's request?
    YES, the student is entitled to access to any personal information about him or herself that is held by Mount Royal, even if it is information the student supplied. Once the information is entered into Mount Royal records and is used to make a decision about admission, it must be retained for at least one year and is in the custody and control of Mount Royal. Release to third parties must be with the student's written consent specifying to whom the information can be disclosed and how it may be used. [FOIP Regulation, Section 6(b)]

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  1. Can the registrar refuse to release grades, transcripts, diplomas etc. to students delinquent in tuition fee payments, library books or other equipment return?
    YES, the registrar can continue this policy unless the student makes a formal FOIP request. Under FOIP, Mount Royal cannot withhold personal information from an applicant that the information is about based on money owed to Mount Royal by the applicant. Section 6 provides an applicant with a right of access to any record in the custody and control of Mount Royal, including a record containing personal information about the applicant. If a formal FOIP request is made, Mount Royal is required to provide a statement of grades to the student. However, it can refuse to issue an official transcript or diploma.

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  1. If written final exams have to be retained for one year after they are written, can students appeal their final grades up to one year after the exam in written?
    NO, the requirement to retain final exams for a period of one year is to allow an individual to examine this record and see the information used to make a decision about him or her. It does not affect Mount Royal's policy on appeal of grades.

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  1. To what extent is the sharing of information about students with student societies included under the term consistent use?
    Yes, but only to the extent that an agreement between Mount Royal and the Student Association requires information sharing [Section 40(1)(e)]. Sharing personal information without an agreement is likely not a consistent use of information collected from students by the institution. However, an institution can't enter or uphold an agreement that breaches and individual's privacy under the Act. Other information sharing should only be done with the consent of the student. Consent could be gathered at the time of registration.

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  1. Students often ask for copies of documents they submitted in support of their application. This could include high school, college or university transcripts, medical information or reference letters. Does Mount Royal have to supply such copies?
    YES, a student has a right to the record even though in some cases the documents are ones they originally submitted. It is not automatic that they get the full record as Mount Royal has to ensure that it does not disclose personal information which would be an unreasonable invasion of the privacy of a third party or confidential information supplied directly to Mount Royal.

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  1. Is there a limit on how many additional copies of unofficial transcripts a student can ask for or can Mount Royal charge for re-issuing the statement?
    Mount Royal is only required to provide one copy of any record in response to a request for personal information. However, a student can submit the same request a second or subsequent time. If the FOIP Coordinator feels that the student is abusing the right of access by making repetitious requests for the same information, she can ask the Commissioner for permission to disregard such requests. [Section 55] If Mount Royal policy requires that a fee be paid for second and subsequent copies in order to defray the photocopying costs, then this policy takes precedence over a request under the Act. [Section 3(a)]

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  1. How should a public body deal with telephone inquiries from students about information about their own record?
    Mount Royal should satisfy itself of the identity of the person calling, perhaps through questions based on the student record the answers to which only the student is likely to know. (E.g. courses taken, names of faculty, student number) Address and phone numbers are not sufficient proof of identity as these could easily be known by others.

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  1. In dealing with appeals, complaints and requests for refunds, information must sometimes be obtained on students' attendance and performance and student loan information. Can this collection continue under the Act?
    Yes, Section 40(1)(h) permits disclosure to an employee of Mount Royal in order for that person to perform their duties. The disclosure should be limited to the information needed to do the job and only provided to the individual who has a need to know that information.

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  1. Can Mount Royal use the SIN for student identification?
    No. The only circumstance where a SIN should be collected is where the institution has a reporting requirement to the Federal Government, or where legislation authorizes the collection for another purpose. Before collecting SIN numbers the FOIP Coordinator at Mount Royal should be consulted.

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  1. What responsibility does Mount Royal have to ensure that the student has actually signed consent to release personal information?
    Generally, Mount Royal will assume the consent is valid. It should ask for a copy of the consent statement and identification of the person holding the consent, and should keep these on file with a notation of disclosure. If there is any reason to suspect that the consent may not be valid, the student should be contacted to confirm consent.

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  1. How long must application forms for unsuccessful candidates or unsolicited application forms be kept?
    If Mount Royal uses the application forms to make a decision about the individual, it must be retained for at least one year. If the form was used to make a decision about hiring, or not hiring, then it must be retained. Applications or resumes that come from unsolicited sources would only be retained if they were considered in the process of a personnel search. Mount Royal's transitory records policy would apply.

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