Notice of Indirect Collection of Personal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What kind of information is collected by the ministry and who provides it?
  2. Why does the ministry need to collect all of this information if schools, school boards and school authorities already collect it?
  3. Where, specifically, does personal information come from?
  4. What happens to the personal information when the ministry collects it indirectly?
  5. What are some examples of the ministry's use of depersonalized data?
  6. How does the ministry protect the privacy of students' and teachers' information?

1. What kind of information is collected by the ministry and who provides it?

The ministry collects personal and other information from several sources, including schools, school boards, school authorities, the Education Quality & Accountability Office, the Ontario Colleges Application Service and the Ontario Universities' Application Centre. Personal information is defined in s. 2(1) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to mean recorded information about an identifiable individual. The Ministry indirectly collects personal information such as name, Ontario Education Number, Ministry Educator Number, gender and date of birth (month and year), educator employment history, and student educational history.

The range of information collected by the ministry from school boards and other organizations includes:

Teacher Data

  • Ministry Educator Number (MEN)
  • Biographical Information
    • Name
    • Gender
    • Birth Date
  • School & Board Assignment
  • Duties & Courses
  • Transfers/Retirements
  • Letters of Permission

Student Data

  • Ontario Education Number (OEN)
  • Biographical information
    • Name
    • Gender
    • Birth Date and Place
  • Enrolment (Admissions information including items such as school name, grade, postal code, year of entry)
  • Achievement
    • Credits
    • Marks
    • Certificates
    • Diploma
  • Program information
    • Regular
    • Special Education
    • Second Language (English, French, Native)
    • Remedial
    • Alternative
    • Early Learning
  • Suspensions/Expulsions (Occurrence Information)
  • EQAO Assessment
  • Post Secondary Application and Registration
  • Voluntary, Confidential Aboriginal Student Self-Identification Information

2. Why does the ministry need to collect all of this information if schools, school boards and school authorities already collect it?

Schools, school boards and school authorities collect data for the purposes of providing educational services, including administration and planning at the local level. In order to achieve improved outcomes for students, it is important that education policies, programs and practices are based on evidence. As such, it is necessary for the ministry to collect, analyse and report on information from schools, school boards and other organizations.

The ministry collects data at particular points in time and uses this data for the following purposes:

  • administering the Education Act and associated regulations, and implementing the policies and guidelines made under the Education Act;
  • ensuring compliance with the Education Act, the regulations, and the policies and guidelines made under the Education Act;
  • planning or delivering programs or services that the ministry provides or funds, in whole or in part, which includes the following activities:
    • allocating resources to any of the programs or services,
    • evaluating or monitoring any of the programs or services, or
    • detecting, monitoring and preventing fraud or any unauthorized receipt of services or benefits related to any of the programs or services;
  • planning or delivering extended day programs, which includes the following activities:
    • allocating resources to any of them,
    • evaluating or monitoring them,
    • detecting, monitoring and preventing fraud or any unauthorized receipt of services or benefits related to them;
  • providing for financial assistance related to extended day programs, evaluating or monitoring the provision of the assistance or detecting, monitoring and preventing fraud or any unauthorized receipt of benefits related to the assistance; 
  • risk management, error management or activities to improve or maintain the quality of;
    • the programs or services that the ministry provides or funds, in whole or in part;
    • extended day programs;
    • the provision of financial assistance related to extended day programs; and
  • research and statistical activities that relate to education and are conducted by or on behalf of the ministry.

3. Where, specifically, does personal information come from?

The ministry collects personal information from Ontario educational institutions and entities as set out in Ontario Regulation 440/01. Ontario educational institutions and entities that provide information include:

  • All school boards and school authorities
  • All schools under the jurisdiction of a school board, school authority or the Ministry of Education
  • All private schools in Ontario
  • Overseas schools that have an agreement with the ministry
  • Education Quality and Accountability Office
  • Ontario College Application Services and Ontario Universities' Application Centre

4. What happens to the personal information when the ministry collects it indirectly?

Personal information is collected by the the Education Statistics and Analysis Branch on behalf of the ministry. Because the ministry must verify that the information it collects is accurate, the ministry uses the biographical data (i.e., personal information) to ensure that the correct Ministry Educator Number (MEN) or Ontario Education Number (OEN) has been entered.

Once this verification has taken place, the the Education Statistics and Analysis Branch retains the data in a secure environment and acts as the gatekeeper for requests from other ministry staff and external researchers. In most cases, these users only obtain access to data in a depersonalized format.

5. What are some examples of the ministry's use of depersonalized data?

The following are examples of some of the ways in which the ministry uses depersonalized data:

  1. Class Size (note: data selection is found in the left sidebar of the site)
  2. Education Facts (note: Quick Facts for different years are listed at the bottom of the Education Facts site)
  3. Quick Facts (note: found at the bottom of the Education Facts site for years 1994-1995 to 2004-2005)
  4. School Board Progress Report
  5. School Board Profiles
  6. Suspensions & Expulsions (2007-2008, 2006-2007, 2005-2006, 2004-2005 and 2003-2004 Fact Sheets)
  7. Research in Education

6. How does the ministry protect the privacy of students', teachers' and ECE information?

Personal information indirectly collected by the ministry is protected in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, and with the following restrictions:

  • The ministry only collects and uses personal information if other information will not serve the intended purpose.
  • All records containing personal information are maintained in a secure and limited access environment. For example,
    • the technology used for transmission of personal information is secure and password-protected;
    • data is transferred electronically to the ministry to maximize the accuracy of information, thereby reducing the possibility of human data entry errors;
    • personal information is only accessible to a limited number of authorized staff in the ministry, and in the educational institutions and entities from which the ministry indirectly collects the personal information;
    • school boards and other organizations that provide data to the ministry ensure the accuracy of personal information prior to transferring the information to the ministry; and,
    • redundant data is eliminated.
  • In most cases the ministry can meet its information needs after depersonalizing the data.
  • Records are destroyed in a secure manner when no longer required by the ministry.
  • Unless required by law, the ministry does not provide 'aggregate data' when publicly reporting information if there are fewer than ten people involved. This suppression of data for fewer than ten people is an extra precaution taken to protect privacy.