Our Commitment to Protect Your Personal Information
We are committed to protecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal information.
This commitment applies to Alberta Human Services, its employees and contracted service providers who perform a service to the department.
Our information protection responsibilities are described in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act) and other legislation such as the Income and Employment Supports Act.
What is personal information
Personal information is any information that identifies you as an individual. It includes information that you provide to us or that we collect from other sources.
Personal information may include, but is not limited to: your name, address, age, gender, family status, unique identification numbers (e.g. a file number, social insurance number), or employment records
Why we collect personal information
We usually first collect your personal information when you fill out an application form to participate in a program or to receive a benefit or service from the department. This information is used to assess your initial eligibility. Personal information also may be collected directly from you, for example, through assessment and ongoing case management activities. As well, information may also be collected periodically to assess your ongoing eligibility.
The onus is on us to collect only the personal information that is directly related to, and necessary for operating our programs and services. We do not collect information “just in case we might eventually need it”.
Each office that delivers our programs and services should identify an employee, either on site or readily available, who can provide guidance to other staff, and can answer questions from you regarding the collection, use, disclosure, and handling of your personal information. For example:
- reason(s) your personal information is needed
- how your personal information will be used
- your options for providing your personal information, and consequences of not providing it including any limitations on benefits or services that may result
- contact information of a person or office in the department who can answer your questions about the collection of personal information
Sometimes, individuals may provide more information than is required. Information that is not required for the programs and services being provided may be returned to the individual, or destroyed according to program practices
How we use and disclose your personal information
The FOIP Act provides authority for us to use an individual’s personal information
- for the purpose(s) for which it was collected or compiled, or
- for a use consistent with that purpose, or
- if the individual the information is about has consented to the use
It should be possible to link the use of an individual’s personal information to the service being provided to that individual, or to a closely related (consistent) use. In the course of providing a program benefit or service, personal information may be used for the following purposes:
- allowing participation in a program or providing benefits or services
- determining an individual’s initial or ongoing eligibility to participate in a program or to receive a benefit or service from us
- carrying out a purpose authorized by an enactment of Alberta or Canada
- for internal management purposes, including planning, resource allocation, quality improvement, monitoring, audit, evaluation, reporting and processing benefit payments
We will ensure you are aware of the purposes for which we collect your personal information and with whom we may disclose the personal information when you apply to participate in a program or receive a benefit or service. Self-evident purposes should be clear. However, if you have any questions, please ask us.
Some of Alberta Human Services’ programs, benefits and services are operated in cooperation with another ministry, the federal government or contracted third parties. In such cases, our contract with those entities usually requires that we share with them personal information we collect for that particular benefit or service. Personal information we collect for benefits or services offered in cooperation with those entities is governed in accordance with applicable provincial or federal privacy legislation and where applicable, rules of regulatory bodies.
Routine requests from individuals for their own personal information and related to services being provided by, or on behalf of, Alberta Human Services may be handled by our employees or contracted service providers. Prior to disclosing an individual’s personal information to any person, the identity of the person asking for the information must be confirmed
If necessary, the enquiry may be referred to the Information and Privacy Office, Alberta Human Services. The Information and Privacy Office will forward an access request form to you to fill out and return. The form will provide us with the details we need in order to search for and provide you with the personal information Alberta Human Services may hold about you. There may be a fee for your request, however; we will provide you with an estimate in advance.
There are a few instances, as outlined in the FOIP Act, where Alberta Human Services may not be able to provide you with some of the personal information we hold about you. These include, but are not limited to, situations where the information contains references to other persons, the information is no longer retained by us, or the information cannot be disclosed for legal reasons. If we are unable to provide you with access to your personal information, we will explain the reason(s) why.
The importance of keeping personal information accurate
We are committed to maintaining the accuracy of your personal information for as long as it is being used for the purposes we have identified. To help keep your personal information accurate, up-to-date and complete, you should notify us of any changes.
If you discover any inaccuracies in your personal information, please contact your worker or the contact centre identified on your copy of the application form.
You may be asked to put your request for correction in writing. We ensure the requested changes are reviewed and where applicable will provide you with a copy of the corrected information, upon request. Alberta Human Services will use its best efforts to inform third parties to whom we have disclosed the information of any relevant corrections. If we do not agree to make the corrections you requested, we will record your request along with an explanation of why were not able to make the requested correction.
The steps we take to protect personal information
The personal information you provide may be recorded in an Alberta Human Services information system and/or your paper file.
Each employee who accesses an individual's information has a responsibility to use this information appropriately. Appropriate use of personal information means using it to accomplish the purposes for which it was collected (e.g., to provide a service or to determine eligibility for a benefit). Personal information must be accessed only on a need to know basis related to the employee's job responsibilities. Viewing information for non-work purposes is an inappropriate use of the information and is a privacy breach.
As a condition of employment, our employees are required to sign a confidentiality oath binding them to this responsibility, which governs their actions even after we no longer employ them.
We keep our employees informed about our policies and procedures for protecting personal information and reinforce the importance of complying with them. Our employees are also required, as a condition of employment to comply with these policies and procedures.
We strive to maintain adequate physical, procedural and electronic security with respect to our offices and information storage facilities to prevent unauthorized access, use, or disclosure, or destruction of your personal information.
The safeguarding and security measures we employ include, but are not limited to, conducting privacy impact assessments to identify potential privacy impacts on personal information, secure locks on filing cabinets and doors, limited physical and electronic access to relevant information only by authorized employees and the use of passwords for system access. All personal information stored in our computer databases is protected with levels of security appropriate to the sensitivity of the personal information and the need for employees to have access to carry out their job responsibilities.
If you have questions or concerns about how your personal information is being managed by us, first discuss your concern with the area responsible. If you feel that your personal information has been inappropriately handled you can contact the Information and Privacy Office about your concerns.
How we protect the privacy of visitors to our web site
We are committed to providing our visitors with a web site that respects their privacy.
We do not automatically gather any personal information from you, such as your name, phone number, email or address. This information is obtained only if you supply it voluntarily, usually through contacting us by email, or by completing and submitting an on-line form.
Information collected in emails and web forms
If you choose to provide us with personal information by email, or by filling out an on-line form and submitting it to us through our web site, we use that information to respond to your message and to help us get you the information you have requested.
We treat emails the same way we treat letters sent to Alberta Human Services. We collect personal information in order to respond to you. We only share the information you give us with another government department if your inquiry relates to that department.
We do not create individual profiles with the information you provide or give it to any private organization. Alberta Human Services does not collect information for commercial marketing.
Security of your information
If you are concerned about sending your personal information to us via the Internet, you can use another method such as phone, fax or regular mail.
Information collected on site usage
The government web servers automatically collect certain information about your visit to our site. We collect and store only the following information:
- the previous Internet page from which you linked to our site
- the date and time you accessed our site
- the Internet domain name or IP address from which you access our site
- the type and version of your browser
- the name and size of the file you request
We use this information to help us make our site more useful to visitors – to learn about the number of visitors to our site and types of technology our visitors use. This information is collected in compliance with the FOIP Act. We do not track or record information about individuals and their visits.
Your Internet domain name or IP address may identify you, depending in large part on the naming standards followed by your Internet service provider. You may wish to ask them about their naming standards policies and practices.
SecurityFor site security purposes and to ensure that web services remain available to all users, the government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.
Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no other attempts are made to identify users or their usage habits.
Links to other web sites
We take our responsibility to respect and protect your personal information seriously. We will review our commitment regularly to ensure that it continues to meet our responsibilities to you. For more information about any of the policies and practices described above, please contact:
Information and Privacy Office
Alberta Human Services
12th Floor, Centre West Building
Edmonton AB T5J 3E1