IPC releases guidance on information-sharing in intimate partner violence cases

New framework comes after 2022 inquest on death of three women

IPC releases guidance on information-sharing in intimate partner violence cases

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) has issued new guidelines to assist professionals in navigating Ontario’s privacy laws when sharing personal information in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Outlined in a document titled Sharing Information in Situations Involving Intimate Partner Violence: Guidance for Professionals, these guidelines are said to focus on promoting “a trauma and violence-informed approach” to support victims and their families.

In a news release, the IPC said it developed the document in response to recommendations made after an inquest into the deaths of three women killed by their former partner.

The inquest was led by the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario in 2022, with the jury recommending that the IPC create guidance to help IPV professionals navigate issues of privacy, confidentiality, and public safety.

Commissioner Patricia Kosseim said her office designed the guidance to support professionals responding to situations involving IPV by providing a framework that “explains when Ontario’s privacy laws permit sharing personal information without consent, particularly when there’s a risk of serious harm.”

“Intimate partner violence is a devastating and pervasive reality in our society,” she said. “We know and respect how seriously professionals take their obligation of confidentiality, but injury or loss of life should never happen because of misunderstandings about privacy laws.”

The IPC’s new guidance was created through consultations with the justice, health, and social services sectors, as well as with survivors of IPV.

“Organizations are encouraged to review and apply the guidance to enhance their understanding around sharing personal information to prevent IPV, lawfully and responsibly,” the IPC said in its news release.  

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