Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions concerning privacy and personal information. If you need more information, please contact Legal Aid Ontario:
1. What is personal information and what kind does LAO collect?
Personal information is any information which could tend to identify someone. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Legal Aid Services Act (LASA), controls how LAO collects, uses and reports personal information.
Under FIPPA, personal information includes anything that relates to
- national or ethnic origin
- marital or family status
- telephone number
- psychiatric, criminal or employment history
- a person's personal opinion
- the views and opinions of other people about an individual
- financial transactions in which an individual has been involved.
2. Why does LAO collect personal information?
The reasons for collecting personal information on all legal aid applications include:
- Deciding if someone qualifies for legal aid services;
- Allowing LAO to collect or enforce payment of a debt to legal aid; and
- Identifying low-income clients and disadvantaged communities to evaluate their legal needs.
3. Who can look at my personal information?
Authorized LAO staff with permission and a specific business purpose can use any personal information Legal Aid Ontario has; however, FIPPA and LASA limit the reporting of personal information to third parties.
5. What does LAO do to protect my personal information?
LAO takes measures to ensure the safety and security of personal information. These include
- training staff in privacy issues
- using internal passwords and security policies
- implementing safeguards to prevent unapproved access (ie: security software and firewalls)
- On site security staff
LAO has a policy staff must follow in the event of privacy breaches.
6. Can I get access to my personal information?
Under the provisions of FIPPA, legal aid applicants have access to their personal information. Individuals can contact any Legal Aid Ontario office, or the LAO FIPPA Coordinator, for any information LAO has.
If you are refused access to your personal information, you may make a formal request under FIPPA to receive a written explanation as to why you were denied. If you disagree with this decision, you can make an appeal to the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
7. Who should I contact if my personal information changes?
Clients and lawyers should contact any LAO area office to make any changes.
8. Where can I find out more about privacy?
Contact LAO's FIPPA Coordinator:
toll free: 1-800-668-8258
in Toronto: 416-979-1446, or
40 Dundas Street West,
Suite 200, Toronto, ON