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How to Complain (Effectively)

January 5, 2023 - Lisa Long, Intake Officer

Before our office can investigate a privacy complaint, the concern needs to be raised in writing to the public body or health trustee that you believe breached your privacy.  A thoughtfully crafted complaint makes it easier for the health trustee or public body to work with you to find a solution to your concerns. It also makes it easier for our staff to understand the situation if you need to engage our office as a last resort.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Send it to the Right Place and the Right Person 

Your complaint should be addressed to the health trustee or public body that you believe breached your privacy.  If possible, try to send it directly to their Privacy Officer.  This might mean doing an internet search or making a telephone call to get the right contact information.  For a list of access and privacy contacts in the Government of Saskatchewan, please click here.

If you can’t find contact information for a Privacy Officer, you can direct your letter to the “head” of the public body or health trustee, as they are responsible for compliance with privacy laws. 

Be Specific and Include Evidence

Tell the public body or health trustee exactly what personal information or personal health information of yours has been breached, by whom, and when. Explain why you think the collection, use, or disclosure of your information was inappropriate, and what you would like to see happen to rectify the situation. If you have any evidence of the privacy breach, you can provide copies to substantiate your claims.

Be Clear that this is a Formal Complaint and Give a Timeline

It is not your responsibility to support your complaint with references to specific sections of the legislation – you certainly can, but you don’t have to.  That said, including a statement that you are making a formal privacy complaint under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP), or The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA), and requesting a response within 30 days should make it clear to the public body or health trustee that your complaint requires a timely response that complies with the legislation.

Retain a Copy and Keep Track of the Date

If you ask our office to investigate a privacy concern because you are dissatisfied with the health trustee or public body’s response to your complaint, we will ask for a copy of the complaint you sent and proof of the date it was submitted.  If you submit your complaint as an email, request a read-receipt and hang onto a copy.  If you send it as a letter, we recommend using registered mail, and again, keep a copy for your records.

For more information about the complaint process, please visit our webpage How do I resolve a privacy complaint?

For more tips and a sample letter, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has a helpful page – their office covers a different jurisdiction, but their process is similar.  Visit Tips for raising your privacy concern with a federal government institution.

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