Privacy and Access Law

Our clients come to us with the tough questions in privacy and ATI/FOI, both inside and outside the workplace. The firm has built a comprehensive privacy and information management practice working with federal and provincial jurisdiction clients. Our clients include private sector organizations, crown corporations, boards and agencies, municipalities, hospitals, and educational institutions at all levels. They trust us to provide wise counsel through this challenging and complex area of law.

We understand privacy and ATI/FOI law. Members of the firm have broad experience with the Federal Privacy Act, Access to Information Act and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) as well as Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA).

We also help our clients with other aspects of their information management needs. Our lawyers have experience with records management reviews, with Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), with the challenges of e-discovery, and with any number of other information management issues.

Privacy Compliance

Privacy matters, now more than ever. Employees and the public are watching and worrying about what happens to their personal information. Breaches of privacy are making it through the courts and making headlines. Managing your risk means taking every precaution you can to avoid mishandling personal information.

We help our clients answer the tough questions. How do we manage our risks of moving data to the cloud? What precautions do we need to take before moving information across borders? How can we safely implement electronic surveillance? How do we implement a “bring your own device” policy, and how do we manage our employees’ conduct online? We can assist with strategic counsel and considered opinions, privacy impact assessments, policy design and implementation, staff training and more.

When the worst case scenario happens, we also help our clients manage the consequences of a data breach. We work hand in hand with clients to design and implement a strategy that minimizes the harm to the individuals affected, and mitigates the risk to their organization.

Our breadth of experience in employment and labour law gives us a particular understanding of the impact of privacy law on the workplace. We know what it takes to make sure your employees are helping you meet your privacy obligations – and we know how best to respond when they do not. Our lawyers have handled workplace privacy claims at labour arbitration, before federal and provincial privacy commissioners, and in the courts.

We also know health care. Our lawyers have practiced in the hospital sector for years, and understand what confidentiality means for patients and for medical professionals. We know what it takes to comply with PHIPA and we can help you safely navigate the minefield of health information privacy.

Access to Information/FOI Compliance

Our firm is unique. We understand the public sector. We have decades of experience representing public sector clients and we understand the particular challenges they face. From this base we have developed a substantial practice providing strategic advice on ATI/FOI compliance issues to public institutions.

Any institution covered by ATI/FOI legislation knows the strain that dealing with a particularly challenging request places on the organization. It may be a request that comes with a media spotlight. It may be a particularly challenging series of requests from the same organization. Or it may be that one request where a mistake in your compliance decisions carries enormous consequences.

Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to be sure you are making the right decision. You need to be sure your strategy in responding to the request is sound. You need to be sure that it won’t come back to haunt you.

Our lawyers can provide the reassurance you need. For years we have been there to support municipalities, school boards, universities, colleges and hospitals when they wrestled with tough cases under FIPPA and MFIPPA. We have been there for federal agencies, institutions and crown corporations under the Access to Information Act. We have helped them through the complex cases, with thousands of responsive records. We have helped them apply the Acts correctly the first time – and when their decisions are challenged, we have represented them successfully before the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario, and the Office of the Information Commissioner.

We believe our public sector experience sets us apart. Other firms develop their ATI/FOI practice hand in hand with their corporate clients – seeking information from government when it suits them, and resisting disclosure on behalf of affected third parties when it doesn’t. We built our experience hand in hand with our public sector clients. We understand the balancing act required from institutions in every request, to fulfill their duties to the requester while ensuring that the interests of the institution, third parties, and private individuals are protected. Because we understand, we can help your stakeholders understand. We have assisted our clients in developing compliance frameworks, communications plans, and ATI/FOI procedures which keep the institution and its ATI/FOI staff working hand in hand instead of head to head.