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Canada Issues: February 2004 Public Policy Update

Feb. 4, 2004

Privacy - Federal

AFP has helped produce three important guides to help members comply with privacy laws. Last year, AFP helped form a privacy working group of organizations representing fundraising, including AFP, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Association for Professional Researchers in Advancement, and the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.

The guides address complying with the federal privacy law, various provincial privacy laws, and the new Ontario health privacy bill (Bill 31) that would create very strict fundraising requirements (see article below). All of the bills are available on the AFP website.

Please bear in mind that documents are beginning steps and should not be considered exhaustive or 'legally informed' communiques.

If you have questions about these documents or about AFP's work on privacy issues, please email

For Government Relations Chairs: An email was sent to all Canadian members in late January about the availability of these documents. However, it would be good to remind members about them again. Chapters are free to include links to these documents from their own websites as well.

Ontario Bill 31

In December of 2003, Ontario introduced Bill 31, the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which would have a dramatic effect on charitable fundraising in the province.

Bill 31 would require health-related charities to get express consent from an individual before gathering and using any information about the person for fundraising purposes (i.e. an opt-in procedure). Implied consent mechanisms, just as a check-off box to opt-out, would not be good enough. While the bill would obviously affect hospitals, it would also impact any other type of organization that deals with health-related information.

AFP will be presenting its comments about the bill at a hearing on Feb. 5 of the Committee on General Government in London, Ontario. In its comments, AFP will be addressing the onerous burdens that Bill 31 places upon charities, especially in the context of best practices that fundraisers already have in place. AFP will be asking the committee to consider differentiating between health information and non-health information. AFP feels that non-health, basic contact information should be allowed to be used for fundraising purposes through an implied consent mechanism. Kevin Goldthorp, Associate Vice President for Development at the University of Western Ontario, will be representing AFP at the hearing.

A copy of Bill 31 can be found on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website

AFP's comments to the committee will be available on the website after the hearing.

For Government Relations Chairs: If your chapter is in Ontario, please consider re-printing this information in your chapter newsletter or updating members via email. AFP may be asking members to write letters about this bill at some point in the near future, depending upon how receptive the provincial government is to AFP's recommendations.

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