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McMaster University

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Link to PDF of all FAQs PDF


1. As our officers are Special Constables, does this provide us with the distinction under the Act of being “law enforcement”?

Such individuals are considered “law enforcement” under FIPPA.

2. UTS currently compiles personal information on students and staff, which is maintained in a database. We use this database to auto fill our reports and for investigative purposes. Will this continue? Will we still have access to it?

So long as the information is collected in accordance with FIPPA and is properly stored in a personal information bank, such collection and use of personal information is permissible.

3. Does releasing information to another department on campus constitute releasing information to a third party?

The University is considered a single institution and, therefore, this would not constitute release to a third party.

4. Our officers gather evidence and personal information as part of an investigation. We have been disclosing this information to the following people (to name a few so they can do their jobs and act on our investigation). Can this continue?

  • Student Affairs – Student Code of Conduct violations
  • Residence Life – Residence Discipline Code
  • EOHSS – slips and falls and personal injury
  • Human Resources – all employee related incidents

As these parties are all part of McMaster University, this does not constitute disclosure, but rather use of information. This information is permitted to be collected indirectly if it is authorised by the individual to whom the information relates (section 39(1)(a)), is being used for the purpose of law enforcement (section 39(1)(g) or for the purpose of conducting a proceeding or possible proceeding before a court or tribunal (section 39(1)(f)). In turn, any of the above parties, as part of McMaster, are permitted to use such personal information in their custody for the purpose for which the information was obtained or compiled, or for another consistent purpose.

When releasing the above information can this also include personal information of others involved i.e.: co- accused/witnesses?

Such information may be used in accordance with section 41(1)(b)(permissible use of personal information) of FIPPA because the information is being used for the purpose for which it was obtained or compiled.

5. We regularly need to relay compassionate messages to students. (not always an emergency situation, such as the person has already died). As this is not specifically a law enforcement practice, can the Registrar's office still release us a student's schedule?

Such use of the personal information is permitted. Since Security Services is not a third party, but rather part of the institution, this does not constitute disclosure.

6. A person is involved in an accident on campus, and the accident is investigated by us. One of the drivers involved requires a copy of the report for insurance purposes; can we release the other driver's vehicle and personal information?

The Insurance Act of Ontario provides that if an automobile insured under a contract is involved in an incident that is required to be reported to the police under the Highway Traffic Act or in respect of which the insured intends to make a claim under the contract, the insured shall give the insurer written notice of the incident, with all available particulars. Thus, the disclosure is permitted pursuant to section 21(1)(d)(statutorily authorized disclosure) of FIPPA, which states that disclosure is permitted if an Act of Ontario or Canada expressly authorizes the disclosure.


PLEASE NOTE: These Frequently Asked Questions are intended to provide general information only, not legal advice. Given the general nature of these questions, the materials herein cannot be entirely accurate, complete, reliable, or error-free in specific circumstances. Please refer specific questions in relation to your particular circumstances to the University Secretariat for specific responses.