Understanding Changes to the Ontario Child, Youth and Family Services Act

Understanding Changes to the Ontario Child, Youth and Family Services Act

This article will summarize a new section added to the Ontario Child, Youth, and Family Services Act (CYFSA) that brought forth new rules regarding the collection, use, disclosure, and access to personal information. Part X came into force January 1, 2020.

WHO DOes PART X APPLY TO?

Part X applies to service providers who are licensed or funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and have not already been subjected to existing privacy legislation. To determine whether Part X applies to your organization consider these two questions:

  1. Are you a service provider as defined?
  2. If you are a service provider, are you already subject to other privacy laws?

A service provider is:

  • A person or entity that provides a service funded under the CYFSA (children’s aid societies, including Indigenous child well-being societies, etc);
  • A licensee, meaning the holder of a license under Part VIII of the CYFSA (Adoption Licensing) or Part IX (Residential Licensing);
  • A lead agency;
  • The Minister of Children, Community and Social Services; and
  • Any additional person or entity prescribed through a regulation.

Licensed operators of foster homes are defined as a service provider however, a foster parent is not.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PART X?

Part X outlines new privacy rights for clients, new obligations for service providers, clarifies authorities for using personal information for research and service system planning for the Ministry, and provides oversight by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC).

Part X provides clients with:

  • The right to request access and make corrections to their personal information records;
  • Greater control over how service providers share their personal information, with the added ability to provide consent based on capacity (not age);
  • The right to a complaint process and an independent review related to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information; and
  • More transparency in how service providers handle personal information.

Part X affords service providers with:

  • Clear rules for collecting, using, and disclosing personal information;
  • Requirements to protect clients’ privacy;
  • Requirements for accountability and improved transparency; and
  • Oversight from the IPC.

Part X includes that the Ministry:

  • Clarify authority to access, use, and disclose data including personal information related to system planning, managing, evaluating, and delivering ministry-funded or provided services; and
  • Protect privacy when collecting, using, or disclosing personal information.

WHY DID WE NEED PART X?

It was important that Part X be added into the CYFSA in order to fill the legislative gaps that existed in the child and youth service sector around information sharing, as well as privacy rights and responsibilities.

It is hoped the addition of Part X will help to provide more consistent management of personal information in the child welfare sector. The IPC has prepared a useful guide for those affected, such as children’s aid societies, on the privacy rights of children, youth and their families that must be respected.

If you have any questions regarding the new changes to the CYFSA or creating a privacy framework for the access to, and collection, use and disclosure of personal information under Part X, contact PRIVATECH.