The privacy of your personal information is important to us. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the optometric services and products that we provide. We also try to be open and transparent as to how we handle personal information. This page describes our privacy policies.
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. This includes information that relates to an individual’s personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, home address, phone number, ethnic background, family status), their health (e.g., health history, health conditions, health services received by them) or their activities and views (e.g., religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or an evaluation of an individual).
Personal information is not the same as business information (e.g., an individual’s business address and telephone number), which is not protected by privacy legislation.
Jennifer Winn, Optometrist includes any optometrist or health care professional, employee or other staff or student trainee authorized to collect, use or disclose personal information. We use a number of consultants and agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal information we hold. These include, but are not limited to, computer consultants, office security and maintenance providers, bookkeepers and accountants, temporary workers to cover holidays, credit card companies, collection agencies, website managers, cleaners and lawyers. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as is reasonably possible. We also have their assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principles.
Jennifer Winn, Optometrist collects, uses and discloses personal information in order to serve our patients. For our patients, the primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide optometric services. For example, we collect information about a patient’s health history, including their family history, physical condition and function in social situations in order to help us assess what their eye care needs are, to advise them of their options and then to provide the eye care they choose to have.
We may communicate this information to other regulated health practitioners, technicians, or individuals authorized to work in our practice as part of a patient’s continuing care.
We also collect this information to obtain a baseline of health and social information so that, in providing ongoing health services, we can identify changes that are occurring over time. It would be rare for us to collect information without the patient’s implied consent, but this might occur in an emergency (e.g., the patient cannot communicate) or where we believe the patient would consent if asked and it is impractical to obtain consent (e.g., a family member passing a message on from our patient and we have no reason to believe the message is not genuine).
For the members of the general public, our primary purposes for collecting personal information are to make them aware of optometry services in general or our practice in particular, or to provide notice of special events (e.g., a seminar or vision screening). For example, while we try to use work contact information where possible, we might collect home addresses, fax numbers and email addresses, but not without consent.
On our website we collect, with the exception of cookies, only the personal information you provide and use that information only for the purpose for which you gave it to us (e.g., to respond to your email message, to order contact lenses, to request an eye examination appointment). Cookies are used only to help you navigate our website and are not used to monitor you.
For people who are contracted to do work for us (e.g., temporary workers), our primary purpose for collecting personal information is to ensure we can contact them in the future (e.g., for new assignments) and for necessary work-related communication (e.g., sending out pay cheques and year-end tax receipts). Examples of the type of personal information we collect for these purposes include home addresses and telephone numbers. It is rare for us to collect such information without prior consent, but it might happen in the case of a health emergency or to investigate a possible breach of law (e.g., if a theft were to occur in the office). If contract staff, volunteers or students wish a letter of reference or an evaluation, we will collect information about their work-related performance and provide a report as authorized by them.
Like most organizations, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes.
The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:
You can choose not to be part of some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., by declining to receive notices of special events or opportunities, or by paying for your services in advance). We do not, however, have much choice about some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., those relating to external regulation).
We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we have taken the following steps:
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services we provided to you and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies.
We keep our patient files and records for as long as necessary for you to access the information. We keep any personal information relating to our general correspondence (i.e., with people who are not patients) newsletters, seminars and marketing activities for about six months after the newsletter ceases publication or a seminar or marketing activity is over.
You can ask us, in writing, to restrict our uses and disclosures of personal information at any time. We will also discontinue to use or to disclose your personal information after a written revocation of your implied or informed consent is received, unless we have already acted upon this consent. Please note that we are required by regulation to retain clinical records of your care for a minimum of 10 years.
We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that information on the hard drive is destroyed. Alternatively, we may send some of the entire patient file to the patient.
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, and we will assist you with access to this information, if necessary. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language). If we do not know you, we will need to confirm you identity before providing you with access. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests. An estimate of the fee will be provided to you in advance.
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, why we cannot give you access. If you are not satisfied with our explanation, you have the right to complain to a privacy commissioner appointed under a provincial act, such as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. The process for a complaint is explained below.
If you believe there is a mistake in the information we have about you, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. You may be required to make the request in writing. 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 incorrect. Where 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 include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone who received the earlier information. If you do not agree with our reasons for refusing to correct your records, you can make a complaint to the provincial privacy commissioner.
Our contact person/information officer is Dr. Jennifer Winn. She can be reached at:
13-300 Eagleson Road
Kanata ON K2M 1C9
613-599-6672 (fax: 613-599-9166)
Dr. Winn will attempt to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
If you wish to make a complaint about our privacy practices or the application of those practices, you may make it in writing to Dr. Winn. She will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a decision and reasons in writing.
If our office is unsuccessful in resolving a general complaint about your personal health information, you may, within one year of the occurrence, submit a written complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
If you are either denied access to, or refused a correction to your personal health information, you have six months to file a written complaint with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Contact information for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario is below.
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 file a complaint with our regulatory body.
College of Optometrists of Ontario
65 Saint Clair Avenue East, Suite 900
Toronto ON M4T 2Y3
This policy is made under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. These are complex acts and provide some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out above.
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario oversees the administration of provincial privacy legislation for health information custodians, including optometrists. The Commissioner reviews complaints and enforces the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto ON M4W 1A8
For more general inquiries, you may wish to contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which oversees the administration of privacy legislation in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsman for privacy disputes.
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 1H3