Personal Health Information Protection Act Statement


To appropriately collect, use and share personal health information held by Seneca in accordance with the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) and all other applicable privacy legislations.


This policy applies to personal health information in Seneca’s custody or control subject to PHIPA.

Visit Counselling & Accessibility Services Privacy Policy for additional information regarding Counselling & Accessibility Services’ specific privacy practices. 

Key Definitions

Personal Health Information

Any identifying information about an individual in oral or recorded form, including but not limited to information that relates to:  

  • the physical or mental health of the individual, including information that consists of the health history of the individual’s family  
  • the providing of health care to the individual, including the identification of a person as a provider of health care to the individual  
  • a plan of service within the meaning of the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994 for the individual  
  • the donation by the individual or any body part or bodily substance of the individual or is derived from testing or examination of any such part or bodily substance 
  • the individual’s health card number 
  • the individual’s electronic health record number or other identifying number (i.e. student number)
  • the identification of an individual’s substitute decision-maker

Health Information Custodian

Health information custodians under PHIPA are described as:

  • a health-care practitioner or a person who operates a group practice of health-care practitioners
  • persons or organizations providing a community service under the Long-Term Care Act, 1994
  • a service provider within the meaning of the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994 who provides a community service to which that act applies
  • public or private hospitals
  • psychiatric facility under the Mental Health Act, 1990
  • an institution under the Mental Hospitals Act, 1990
  • an independent health facility under the Independent Health Facilities Act, 1990
  • a long-term care facility under the Nursing Homes Act, 1990, Charitable Institutions Act, 1990 or Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act, 1990
  • a “care home” within the meaning of the Tenant Protection Act, 1997, which may be, for example, a retirement home
  • a pharmacy
  • a laboratory or a specimen collection centre under the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act, 1990
  • an ambulance service within the meaning of the Ambulance Act
  • an evaluator under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 or an assessor under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992
  • a board of health together with its medical officer of health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990
  • the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care
  • any other person prescribed by the regulations as a health information custodian 


An individual authorized by a health information custodian to do anything on behalf of the custodian with respect to personal health information. Agents may collect, use, disclose, retain or dispose of personal health information as permitted by the health information custodian and considered necessary for the purposes of carrying out their duties as an agent. 


To gather, acquire, receive or obtain personal health information by any means from any source.


To view, handle or otherwise deal with personal health information. This does not include the disclosure of personal health information.

Note: The sharing of information between custodian and agent is considered a use and not a disclosure or a collection.


To make personal health information available or to release it to another health information custodian or person.

Express Consent

The collection, use or disclosure of an individual’s personal health information by a health information custodian that has been clearly and unmistakably approved by that individual. Express consent can be explicitly provided either verbally or in writing.

Implied Consent

When Seneca receives personal health information about an individual from the individual, the individual’s substitute decision-maker or another health information custodian for the purpose of providing health care or assisting in the provision of health care to the individual, the college may rely on implied consent to collect, use or disclose the information for the purposes of providing health care or assisting in providing health care, unless Seneca is aware that the individual has expressly withheld or withdrawn the consent.

Health Care

Any observation, examination, assessment, care, service or procedure that is completed for a health-related purpose and is carried out or provided to diagnose, treat or maintain an individual’s physical or mental condition to prevent disease or injury or to promote health, or as part of palliative care.

Circle of Care

Term used to describe the conditions that allow health information custodians to rely on assumed implied consent when collecting, using or disclosing individuals’ personal health information for the purpose of providing care.

Circle of care may include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, clinical clerks and employees assigned to one’s health care. Not included are health-care information custodians who are not part of one’s direct or followup treatment.



  1. Policy Statement
    Seneca is committed to protecting an individual’s privacy and ensuring the confidentiality of their personal health information. The types of personal health information Seneca collects may include name, date of birth, health history, Ontario health card or electronic health record number, Seneca ID number and records of care provided. Seneca collects, uses and discloses personal health information for the following purposes:
    • to provide assessment, counselling, treatment, referral and/or consultation services as requested by individuals
    • to obtain payment for services or goods provided; payment may be obtained from the individual, Ontario Health Insurance Plan, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, private insurers or others
    • to conduct quality improvement and risk-management activities as required by regulations
    • to promote the Seneca Medical Centre, Counselling & Accessibility Services, new services, special events and opportunities (seminar or conference); Seneca will obtain express consent from individuals prior to collecting or handling personal health information for these purposes
    • to comply with external regulators; health-care professionals at Seneca are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario, College of Psychologists of Ontario, College of Regulated Psychotherapists of Ontario, College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, College of Occupational Therapists Association, College of Nurses of Ontario and other licensing bodies that may inspect the college’s records and interview professional staff as part of their regulatory activities in the public interest
    • for other purposes permitted by law
    Seneca will collect, use and disclose only as much personal health information as is needed to achieve these purposes. Individuals can withhold or withdraw consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal health information by contacting Seneca.
  2. Access to Health Records
    Individuals have the right to seek access to their health records kept at Seneca or to request a correction to a record that is inaccurate or incomplete, subject to PHIPA. Individuals may contact the Seneca Medical Centre or Counselling & Accessibility Services directly about their health records.

    Seneca Medical Centre
    1750 Finch Ave. East
    North York, Ont.
    M2J 2X5

    Telephone: 416.491.5050 ext. 22965

    Counselling & Accessibility Services
    1750 Finch Ave. East
    North York, Ont.
    M2J 2X5
    Telephone: 416.491.5050 ext. 22900
  3. Questions and/or Concerns
    Individuals may contact the Privacy Office if they have questions regarding Seneca’s privacy practices.

    Privacy Office
    8 The Seneca Way
    Markham, Ont.
    L3R 5Y1

    Telephone: 416.491.5050 ext. 77846

    Individuals also have the right to contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario about Seneca’s privacy practices or how their personal health information has been handled.

    Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
    2 Bloor St. East, Suite 1400
    Toronto, Ont.
    M4W 1A8

    Telephone: 416.326.3333

Supporting Documentation

Related Seneca Policies

Related Materials

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