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Privacy and Confidentiality

In accordance with its governing legislation and Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules), the FST is required to conduct its proceedings openly and transparently, unless exceptional circumstances justify closing proceedings. The FST normally provides public access to its proceedings and to the documents filed in connection with those proceedings that form part of the FST’s adjudicative records. It is only in rare cases that the FST holds private hearings and keeps documentary evidence confidential and off the public record. A party who seeks such exceptional treatment must persuade the FST that such treatment is required as provided in the FST’s Rules.

The FST is also subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Tribunal Adjudicative Records Act (TARA). These Acts require the FST to provide public access to its records, subject to certain limitations and procedural requirements. In certain circumstances these Acts may provide protection from disclosure of personal/confidential information. Protections from disclosure may be requested by the parties to proceedings who have privacy concerns by seeking FST confidentiality orders under its Rules.

The FST’s Rules outline the procedures that should be followed by parties who believe their situations fall within the narrow category of cases where some or all of the documentary evidence should be kept confidential (by Order of the Tribunal), or where the hearing should be private.

If you believe your case raises special privacy concerns, you should review:

You should raise your privacy concerns at the first available opportunity, which is usually at the Pre-Hearing Conference. If you believe your privacy concerns need to be dealt with before the Pre-Hearing Conference, please contact the Registrar.

If the FST receives a request governed by FIPPA or TARA for disclosure of its records in relation to an ongoing proceeding, the Registrar will contact the parties to the proceeding. However, if the proceeding to which any such request relates is closed, the parties will not normally be contacted.

Parties should be careful to protect their own personal information and should also take care to protect the privacy of uninvolved third parties. Material which is sensitive should only be filed if it is important to the case advanced by a party. In some circumstances, a party may redact sensitive information prior to filing a document on consent of the other parties or on a motion brought before the FST pursuant to Rule 11. Examples of potentially confidential material included in filed documents includes the names, salary information, banking information and SIN numbers of employees or former employees who may or may not be parties.

Persons involved in proceedings before the FST should also understand that FST decisions are generally posted on the internet. These decisions normally name the parties, identify relevant witnesses by name, and discuss the evidence in some detail. The FST is sensitive to privacy issues and makes every effort to exclude from its decisions the type of identifying information that may place people at risk. However, the FST’s primary responsibility is to write decisions which include enough information to make the reasons for those decisions clear, not only to parties involved in the case, but also to those not involved in the case.