The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information. Except when required or permitted by law, it will not disclose personal information without consent or reasonable and lawful notice.
Personal information is data that refers distinctively to an individual. Examples of personal information are a person’s name, address, birth date, gender and marital status.
Collection of Information
The ATA collects personal information about its members in a number of ways. First, the ATA receives contact and employment information about members on an ongoing basis from the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF). (ATRF receives this information from school boards, which are authorized, under the Teachers’ Pension Plans Act, to collect employment information from the teachers they employ and to disclose it to the ATRF. The ATRF, in turn, is authorized by legislation to release a portion of this information to the ATA.) Second, the ATA collects personal information from members who volunteer such information when they request individual services from the ATA or any of its subgroups (locals, specialist councils, convention associations) whether in person, by telephone, by e-mail or by filling out interactive forms on one of the ATA’s websites. Third, because of the nature of the services it provides, the ATA occasionally collects personal information about members indirectly from a third party, such as a litigant in a legal action, a lawyer, an employer, a government agency, a court or a tribunal. In some cases, the ATA is required by legislation or by order of a court or tribunal to collect information from these third parties.
In addition to collecting personal information about members, the ATA also collects personal information from employees (the term “employee” refers to full- and part-time employees, volunteers, contract workers and potential employees) and from service providers. These individuals provide this information voluntarily in a variety of ways: in writing, in person, by telephone, by e-mail and by filling out online forms on one of the ATA’s websites.
In order to ensure that its websites are meeting users’ needs, the ATA tracks such non‑identifiable information about users as their Internet address, domain name, operating system, browser type, the time of their visit and the pages that they viewed or downloaded. To obtain this information, the ATA sends the user a “session-cookie,” a small text file containing a unique identification number that identifies the user’s browser—not the user personally—to the ATA’s website server each time the user visits an ATA website. Users can set their browser to reject cookies, but doing so may render some website features, especially those that enable users to personalize pages, unworkable. People visiting the ATA’s website do so voluntarily and are deemed to have consented to allowing the ATA to collect the non-identifiable information specified above.
Use of Personal Information
The ATA uses personal information about its members to bargain collectively on their behalf, to communicate with them and to advance their professional and employment interests. To enable its subgroups (locals, specialist councils and convention associations) to carry out their functions, the ATA provides the executive members of each subgroup with periodic listings of the names of, and contact information for, the members of the subgroup. These membership lists are stored in a secure (password-protected) area of the website.
In addition to using personal information about members to carry out its internal functions, the ATA occasionally needs to disclose personal information about ATA members to others. The ATA will disclose personal information to a third party only (a) after having received the member’s consent, (b) after having clearly identified the purpose or purposes for which the information is being released and having given reasonable and lawful notice or (c) when required or otherwise permitted to do so by law. The circumstances in which the ATA is permitted or required to disclose information to an external party are specified in provincial legislation (including the Personal Information Protection Act, the Health Information Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and in the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The ATA uses the personal information that it collects from employees for the purposes of establishing, managing and terminating working relationships.
The ATA uses the personal information that it collects from service providers to establish and maintain service contracts that the ATA requires to carry out its functions.
Disclosure of Personal Information
Unless otherwise required by law, the ATA will not disclose personal information about a member to a third party without the express written or e-mailed consent of the person involved. In certain circumstances, however, the ATA is not required to tell a member that it has collected, used or disclosed his or her personal information. For example, the ATA is not required to obtain consent if it collects, uses or discloses personal information for artistic, literary or journalistic purposes.
Under applicable privacy legislation, the ATA can collect, use and disclose personal information about employees without obtaining their consent provided that the purpose is reasonable and that it has given employees reasonable prior notification about how the information will be used. For example, the ATA routinely discloses to payroll administrators and third-party benefit suppliers personal information about its employees when such disclosure is necessary to administer staff payroll and benefits. The ATA takes reasonable contractual steps to ensure that third parties to whom it discloses personal information exercise a comparable level of care in protecting the personal information given to them.
Retention of Personal Information
Privacy legislation stipulates that personal information does not need to be retained longer than is reasonably required to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected. The ATA will retain files that are no longer active for up to 10 years after the matter for which the file was opened has been concluded. After an employee leaves ATA employment, the ATA will retain his or her personal information for at least three years or for as long thereafter as is reasonable. The ATA may, at its sole discretion, destroy duplicate material so that one copy is retained in either paper or electronic form.
Protection of Personal Information
Accessing One’s Personal Information
Under privacy legislation, individuals have a right to access records containing their personal information. Upon request and subject to certain lawful restrictions, the ATA will give individuals access to the personal information it holds about them. If a request is complex and requires an extensive or detailed search, the ATA may, at its sole discretion, charge a reasonable fee. All requests for access must be in writing and must set out in sufficient detail the scope of the request. Requests should be delivered or mailed to the ATA’s privacy officer.
If a member or other individual requests that the ATA correct an error or omission in the personal information that it has about him or her in its custody or control, it will, subject to legal limitations, correct the information as soon as is reasonably possible or annotate it with the correction that was requested.
The ATA’s privacy officer will make every reasonable effort to assist individuals asking for access to their personal information and will respond as accurately and completely as is reasonably possible within the time limits specified in privacy legislation. The privacy officer will tell the applicant whether or not he or she is entitled to or will be given access to all or part of his or her personal information. If any part of the request for access is denied, the privacy officer will explain the reasons for the refusal and identify the sections of the legislation on which the refusal is based. The privacy officer will also inform the applicant that he or she may ask Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the ATA’s decision to deny access to personal information.
For More Information
Persons wanting to find out more about the ATA’s privacy guidelines, access their personal information or make a complaint about the ATA’s handling of a privacy issue should contact the ATA’s privacy officer. The ATA’s privacy officer can be contacted by e-mail at PrivacyOfficer@ata.ab.ca; by telephone at 780-447-9429 (in Edmonton) or 1-800-232-7208 (elsewhere in Alberta); or by mail at 11010 142 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5N 2R1.
Additional information about privacy legislation is available from Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner at www.psp.gov.ab.ca, from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta and from the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner at www.privcom.gc.ca.