It seems like a small thing, but it’s good for PACE instructors to realize that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA) applies in their role as contract staff for the University. FIPPA is a provincial statute that controls how certain entities in the province collect, use and disclose personal information. FIPPA also provides a right to request copies of records retained by these entities, and in the case of records containing the personal information of the requester, a right to seek corrections. The University is specifically named in the legislation as an ‘educational body’; employees include anyone who handles personal information in the course of providing a service to the University, which includes contract instructors. Records created by contract instructors in the course of their employment with PACE are subject to disclosure under the access to information provisions.
FIPPA details the types of personal information that are covered by the legislation. Some of it is pretty basic: name, address, student number, but it goes beyond that to include views expressed about an individual. Records covered by the legislation include anything written or photographed or electronically stored; that includes notes on class performance, emails to and from students, and emails about students.
In practical terms, any notes an instructor keeps on a student, any email messages about a student, these are covered by FIPPA. An individual student can request those records regardless of where they are stored, kept, or transmitted; a contract instructor can be asked to produce the notes they kept during a course or the emails that were exchanged about a student – even if that is sent through the instructor’s personal email account.
The University has some recommended practices for email located here: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/privacy/records-management/email-management.html
And general information located here: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/privacy/privacy/index.html
A recent request from a student for emails about them brought this to light as the instructor had to search their personal emails and produce them as part of the response to the FIPPA request. Instructors may want to consider using the University email system for all communications related to teaching to help maintain privacy of records and avoiding searching personal emails should a request be received.