"The Whattam Funeral Home is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information of the families it serves and its employees. We value the trust of those we deal with and of the public and recognize that maintaining this trust requires that we be transparent and accountable in how the personal information we receive is treated. We are committed to collecting, using the disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the goods and services we provide."
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual including, but not limited to, that which related to their personal characteristics (ie: gender, age, home address, phone number, ethnic background), their cause of death, or their opinions or beliefs (ie: religion).
Certain privacy information such as names, addresses and telephone numbers which are published in telephone directories are not considered personal information. Any information printed in a death notice for newspapers can be shared.
Primary Purpose for Personal Information Collection
Like all funeral homes in Ontario, we collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our families. This is information that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in these circumstances. To complete and handle accordingly all forms necessary to register the death with the government (municipal, federal and provincial), provide the estate with forms necessary to conclude the settlement of the estate, including pension, and or insurance forms. To provide sufficient information to related services such as cemetery, clergy and church to allow them to carry out their requested duties. To gather sufficient information as to safeguard The Whattam Funeral Home and ensure that we are dealing with the appropriate legally responsible individuals, charged with the responsibility for making funeral arrangements, and to assist us in the collection of payment. To assist people in making funeral arrangements in advance of need and if requested to properly deposit prepayment funds in accordance with The Funeral Directors and Establishments Act. Examples of the types of information we collect for the these purposes are: name, home contact information, identification number (S.I.N.), insurance benefit coverage, gender, age, ethnic or country of origin, marital status, occupation, religion, employment status, marital status, parents' names and country of origin.
Related and Secondary Purposes
The Whattam Funeral Home will collect sufficient information to invoice clients for goods and services not paid for at the time of arrangements and to collect unpaid accounts.
We collect sufficient information to provide our families with information on funerals and the benefits of arranging prior to need, as well as providing families assistance with the settlement of the estate (ie: Canada Pension Death and Survivors Benefits). This is information that we would not maintain in our records, but simply use to assist our families.
Our funeral establishment and all its professional employees are regulated by the Funeral Directors and Establishments Act who may randomly inspect our files and/or interview our staff as part of the regulatory duties. Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (ie: Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc) have the right to review our files as part of their mandate. This does not require the gathering of any previously unattained information.
Our funeral establishment requires by law to have year end statements completed by an accounting firm, only financial information from accounts will be known to the accounting firm, bookkeeper and lawyers.
Financial information from files would be reviewed if The Whattam Funeral Home were being sold. The purchaser would conduct due diligence to ensure the authenticity of value. It would strictly involve the review of accounting and business files.
Retention and Destruction of Personal Information
We have the responsibility under our regulatory act to maintain financial records and goods and services contract for a minimum of ten (10) years. We do however keep our files indefinitely, in order to be able to provide assistance in the future well after our services have been provided.
We have taken the following steps to ensure protection of privacy: staff have been trained to collect, use and disclose only the information necessary to fulfill our duties or as described in this policy, paper information (files) are maintained in a non-public area, paper information no longer required is shredded, all computer stations require a password as does the network, documents are transmitted in sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes marked confidential, a cover sheet identifying the recipient including a privacy clause will accompany the faxed information, electronic information is sent through a direct line, or is anonymized or encrypted, computers and files that can reasonably be locked in a restricted area are maintained in such a manner.
A consent form is presented to families during at-need and pre-need funeral arrangements and is obtained from the individual authorized to do so (ie: executor/executrix/next of kin etc) and can only be obtained through signature in person. For an individual who is a minor, seriously ill, or mentally incapacitated, consent may be obtained from a legal guardian, legal next of kin, or an appointed executrix/executor. We realize that consent is only meaningful if the individuals understand how their information will be used, therefore all verbal avenues are taken by the director to ensure this.
Exceptions of Consent
The Whattam Funeral Home may only disclose personal information without consent if: if is clearly in the individual's interests and consent is not available in a timely way, an emergency that threatens the life, health or security of an individual, for the investigation of a breach of law in Canada or elsewhere, publicly available information (ie: telephone directories, professional directories, statutory registries, court records and information provided by the individual to newspapers, magazine and books), to a lawyer representing the funeral home, for debt collection purposes, to comply with a subpoena, warrant or court order, at the request of a government institution for national security, law enforcement or administration, to collect a debt, and where disclosure is required by law.
Access, Correction, Complaints and Openness
Individuals may access the personal information about themselves held by The Whattam Funeral Home. Confirmation of identity prior to access is required. We will restrict access only if it is impossible to separate this information from that of a third party.
We make every effort to ensure that the information provided and maintained is correct, and therefore will co-operate in making any changes necessary once proof has been provided. Once corrected the funeral home will notify any third parties who have received the incorrect information of the correction.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1H3