Guarding the privacy of your personal information is an important principle of the Alta Vista - Rideau practice. We are committed to collecting, using, and disclosing personal information responsibly, and only to the extent necessary for providing psychological services, and operating the practice. Further, we are committed to informing you of how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policy.

Who we are

ALTA VISTA - RIDEAU PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES is an association of individuals who are Psychologists (Dr. Marion A. Cuddy, Dr. Ron Bell), and Psychotherapists (Janet M. Thomson, M.Ed.) We provide a broad range of psychological/counselling services to adults, adolescents, couples, and families. We provide psychological assessments, consultations, counselling, and treatment.

In order to manage the business and administration requirements of this practice, bookkeepers, accountants, and secretarial support staff may provide services to us, and have access to restricted information. Cleaning staff have access to the offices. We obtain services from reputable providers, and obtain assurance from associated staff and consultants that they will adhere to strict privacy principles.

What is personal information?

Personal information includes information that is specific to a person such as his/her characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, family status, sexual orientation, education, employer), health status (e.g., health history, assessment results, diagnoses, physical health, mental health), or, activities and views (e.g., occupation, community involvement, politics, personal opinions, criminal history, credit or loan data, future intentions such as changing jobs).

Why we collect personal information

In order to provide services, we obtain personal information from you. We try to obtain only the information that is necessary. This information becomes part of your file. The primary purposes for collecting this information are:

to provide an assessment of psychological status and needs for service,
to diagnose,
to provide treatment,
to note changes in function/status as the result of treatment,
to be able to contact you, or someone you have identified in case of emergencies, to meet requirements of College of Psychologists of Ontario, or the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, or the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists, or The British Columbia Association of Registered Clinical Counsellors.

Secondly, the costs of some psychological services are paid for by third parties (e.g., WSIB, private insurance, employer). These third parties often have your consent or legislated authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to funding.

Other purposes include:

billing/accounting purposes,
notifying you of changes to our services, expansion of services, or special events,
providing evidence of provision/quality of services to third party providers.

We do not collect information unless we have reason to believe it is needed. For example, we do not request your Social Insurance Number, because we do not need to use it. It would be rare for us to collect information without your express consent (e.g., you are unable to communicate directly as when unconscious), or where we believe you would consent if asked, and it is impractical to obtain consent (e.g., a family member passes a message on from you).

We protect your personal information

We understand the importance of protecting your personal information. For that reason we restrict access to your personal information as much as is reasonably possible. We have taken the following steps:

Your records are kept in a locked and secure location, and protected by an alarm system.
Drafts and rough notes are shredded and destroyed in a timely fashion.
Computer files are password protected.
Electronic hardware (e.g., computers, dictation devices, palm pilots, CDs, diskettes) are kept in a restricted area.
Email information is password protected, or encrypted.
Information that is sent out is sealed and addressed directly to the recipient, faxes are sent by direct lines, or to secure locations (unless this is not possible).
Members of the practice meet to review, update, and train to ensure privacy standards.
External consultants and agencies with access to your personal information must enter into privacy agreements with us.

Retention and Destruction of Personal Information is Done Responsibly

As members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, we are required to retain your records for a minimum of 10 years from the date of the last contact with adults, and adolescent client's records are kept for 10 years after the client's 18th birthday. This information is kept in the event that you require the information collected, or to inform further service provision as required. Further, it may be required for the purposes of monitoring the services provided to you by regulating bodies, and for legal protection of the practitioner. The purposes for keeping files must be balanced with the possible negative consequences of retaining old, outdated records. Therefore, after the required time period information will be destroyed unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., a legal proceeding).

Mailing lists and client directories will be purged of your information once we believe that we will be no longer be contacting you again. Upon request, this information can be removed immediately.

We take care to destroy information in a secure fashion. Typically, this involves shredding paper, deleting electronic (e.g., computer) files, and the physical destruction of any computer hard drives, CDs, or diskettes, when they are discarded.

Looking at your Personal Information

You have the right to see what personal information we hold about you, with only a few exceptions. Usually, all you have to do is ask. We will spend time to help you understand any information that you do not understand (e.g., use of a term you do not know). We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests. We may also ask that you put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access to information we will tell you within 30 days, and tell you the reason why we cannot give you the information.

If you believe that there is an error in the information on your file, you have the right to ask that the information be corrected. This applies to both factual information, and professional opinions. We may require documentation that demonstrates that the record is wrong. If we have made an error, we will correct it in a timely fashion, and send the correction to anyone who has been sent any document containing the error. If we disagree with you that there has been an error, we will still add a document to the file with a brief statement from you on the point, and we will pass this statement on to anyone else who received the information.

Website and Online Privacy

If you access our website at www.avrps.ca please note that we respect and support your right to confidentiality online. We do not access any information on any of the visitors to our website. Your email address and any other info you sned to us by email will be used only to address and/or respond to your request and will be treated confidentially.

If you have a question or concern

Our office has an information/privacy officer, Marion Cuddy. She can be reached at our at #203-1729 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1V 7Z5. She will attempt to answer any questions you might have.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to the privacy officer. The privacy officer will acknowledge your complaint, and ensure that it is investigated promptly. You will be provided with a formal written decision with reasons, and information about any corrective actions resulting from your complaint.

If you have a concern about the professionalism, competence, or capacity of any of our professional staff we would ask that you discuss it with us. If, however, we cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to complain to the appropriate regulatory body. For Marion Cuddy, Ron Bell, you may contact;-

College of Psychologists of Ontario,
Suite 500, 110 Eglinton Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1A3
Telephone: 1-800-489-8388.
www.cpo.ca

For Janet Thomson, you may contact;-

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association,
114-223 Colonnade Rd S.,
Ottawa, On.,
K2E 7K3
Tel: (613) 237-1099
Toll free: 1-877-765-5565
Fax: 613-237-9786

This policy is made under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. This act is complex, and there may be rare exceptions to the policies outlined above. For more information, the Information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:

112 Kent Street,
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Telephone (613) 995-8210
www.privcom.gc.ca