SSHRC is committed to the protection of all personal information collected and used in the operation and management of its activities. This page outlines SSHRC’s authority and purposes for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
Section 3 of the Privacy Act defines personal information as any information that identifies an individual. This includes information such as your name, address, IP address, telephone number, birth date, social insurance number, e-mail address and employment information.
Privacy and Access to Information
All personal information provided to SSHRC will be used and disclosed in accordance with the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual or corporation present in Canada the right to access their personal information that is held by the Government of Canada.
At the time of collection, SSHRC will inform all applicants for what purpose their personal information is being collected, and how to exercise their right of access to, or correction of, that information. Applicants will be asked for their consent where appropriate (e.g., if the personal information is to be used or disclosed for a purpose that is inconsistent with, or different from, the reason for which the information was originally collected).
SSHRC’s records may also be disclosed in accordance with the Access to Information Act. This Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual or corporation present in Canada the right of access to records held or controlled by a government institution. However, the Act allows for the protection of sensitive information. For example, records will be redacted to protect an individual’s personal information, or where there is a legal obligation to withhold information.
For instructions on how to make a request for information under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act, please consult SSHRC’s Access to Information and Privacy webpage.
Legislative Authority for Collection of Personal Information
SSHRC derives authority to collect personal information from three legal and policy frameworks. They are as follows:
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act: section 4 outlines the functions of SSHRC, including the granting of awards to researchers in the social sciences and humanities.
- Financial Administration Act: provides a statutory basis for transfer payments by the federal government to individuals.
- Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Policy on Transfer Payments: outlines a government institution’s specific requirements when providing transfer payments, including the collection of sufficient personal information to identify the recipient, to assess eligibility and to conduct periodic audits.
SSHRC’S Statement of Privacy Principles
In collecting, disclosing and storing personal information, SSHRC adheres to the ten privacy principles in the Canadian Standards Association’s Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information. The principles and SSHRC’s compliance with each one are outlined below.
1. Accountability for personal information
SSHRC is responsible for the personal information in its custody or control. SSHRC has an appointed manager of ATIP and Corporate Operations who is responsible for ensuring SSHRC staff are trained on their responsibilities related to the protection of privacy.
SSHRC does not take responsibility for the use and disclosure of the personal information that applicants submit directly to a third party for a joint funding initiative. It is the applicants’ responsibility to read and consent to that organization’s privacy notice. Alternatively, when applicants submit their personal information directly to SSHRC for a joint funding initiative, SSHRC will ensure that it is managed in a manner compliant with the Privacy Act.
2. Identifying purposes: SSHRC’s use of personal information
Before collecting any personal information, SSHRC will identify the purposes for its collection, use or disclosure, and provide notice of these purposes to the individual. SSHRC collects the personal information that is necessary to perform its administrative function as a granting agency, such as for:
- administrative and merit review of applications;
- administering awards;
- establishing databases for program planning and evaluation;
- sharing names and summaries of research, if an application is successful, for promotional purposes; and
- developing banks of potential external assessors and committee members.
Note that neither adjudication committees nor external assessors are privy to personal information about gender or age. This information is provided at the discretion of the applicant and is used solely for statistical information. Personal contact details, such as phone numbers and personal addresses, are also not shared with adjudication committees or external assessors.
If necessary, SSHRC may also use this information to:
- consult with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canadian Institute for Health Research, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the Canada Council for the Arts to determine the most appropriate funding jurisdiction for the proposed activity, or to monitor overlap in federal support;
- determine if there is an occasion to administer, monitor or fund a grant with other federal or provincial departments. To do this, SSHRC may share applications with those departments;
- conduct statistical studies on the funding of research, research-related activities and research training; and
- review allegations of scholarly misconduct in accordance with the provisions of the Tri-Agency Framework: Reponsible Conduct of Research.
More detailed descriptions of the personal information that SSHRC collects and holds, and how SSHRC uses and discloses this information for each funding opportunity, is available on our Info Source chapter.
Except where permitted or required by law, SSHRC will only collect personal information with the knowledge and consent of the individual. SSHRC will use a form of consent (express or implied) that reflects the nature of the information being collected, taking into account its sensitivity and the reasonable expectations of the individual. In accepting the terms and conditions of applying to SSHRC’s funding opportunities, applicants also agree to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in accordance with federal access and privacy legislation.
Individuals may withdraw consent, at any time, to SSHRC’s use or disclosure of personal information, subject to reasonable notice, contractual restrictions and/or SSHRC’s legal obligations. However, as personal information is required to administer the application and review process, failure to provide this information will result in SSHRC not accepting an application.
If SSHRC plans to use or disclose personal information for a purpose not previously identified in the Privacy Notice to the individual or the Info Source chapter, SSHRC will inform the individual and seek further consent.
4. Limiting collection
SSHRC will only collect personal information that is necessary to fulfil the purposes identified to the individual. All personal information will be collected by fair and lawful means. Personal information provided to SSHRC that it does not have a need to know will be disposed of in a safe and secure manner.
When possible, SSHRC will collect personal information directly from the individual. However, SSHRC may collect personal information from other sources when it is available in the public domain (e.g., faculty websites), or from public bodies, government agencies and third parties who have the authority to disclose the information. SSHRC collects scholarly opinions about applicants’ proposals from letters of reference, external assessments, and merit review committees to facilitate the merit review of applications. This material will be shared with merit review committees. Committee members must sign a statement agreeing to adhere to our Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy.
5. Limiting use, disclosure and retention
SSHRC will only use or disclose personal information for the purposes for which it was collected (or for a use identified as consistent with that purpose), unless an individual has otherwise consented or where the use or disclosure is permitted or required by law. SSHRC will, using discretion, also disclose information if it meets the criteria of section 8(2) of the Privacy Act; subsection 8(2)(j) allows SSHRC to release information for research purposes, if conditions regarding confidentiality are met and SSHRC believes the benefit of the research to be of larger value to the research community.
Personal information will be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfillment of identified purposes, and in keeping with the disposition schedules set by Library and Archives Canada. SSHRC also limits the access to personal information to staff on a “need to know” basis, meaning a staff member needs to know that information to perform professional duties. In a similar vein, SSHRC forwards competition results to the appropriate university administration. In practice, these administrators may inform candidates of the outcome of their applications, and use this information to administer awards. Such sharing of applicant information is necessary to facilitate adjudication of applications, administration of grants, and for monitoring and evaluating the programs.
SSHRC will take reasonable steps to ensure that personal information collected by the agency is as accurate, complete and up-to-date as necessary to fulfil its intended purposes. In particular, SSHRC will take all reasonable steps to minimize the possibility of the use of inappropriate or inaccurate personal information to make a decision about an individual.
At the same time, SSHRC expects individuals who are concerned about the accuracy and completeness of their personal information to provide updated information as appropriate. To provide updated information, verify the accuracy of SSHRC’s records containing your personal information, or request a correction to your personal information, please contact SSHRC’s ATIP office (address provided below) or submit a Record Correction Request Form to the ATIP office. If SSHRC receives a request to update personal information that it has shared with a third party to fulfil its administrative responsibilities, unless otherwise instructed, SSHRC will share the updated information with that third party. However, please note that the personal information attached to an application remains with the application as originally submitted, unless a change is needed for an administrative purpose.
SSHRC protects personal information using safeguards that are appropriate to the sensitivity of the information, taking into account the amount, distribution, format and intended uses. Safeguards may include, but are not limited to the following:
- physical measures, such as locked filing cabinets and restricted access to offices;
- organizational measures, such as limiting access on a “need to know basis”;
- educating employees on the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of personal information;
- technological measures, such as the use of computer passwords, permissions control on our internal document management system, secure data transmission, and data back-up and recovery procedures; and
appropriate disposal of personal information, in keeping with the disposal schedules mandated by Library and Archives Canada.
SSHRC will readily make available specific information about its policies and procedures related to the management of personal information on its Access to Information and Privacy website and Info Source chapter. This information includes:
- the title and address of SSHRC’s ATIP co-ordinator;
- the means of gaining access to one’s own personal information held by SSHRC (a privacy request);
- the means of updating or requesting a change to personal information; and
- the means of requesting access to SSHRC’s records (an access to information request). A record is defined as any documentary material, regardless of medium or form.
9. Individual access
Individuals can make written requests under the provisions of the Privacy Act to view personal information in SSHRC’s custody, or make an informal request for information if the scope is small, such as accessing one’s own application or letters of reference. When a request is received, staff will identify if SSHRC possesses personal information about the requestor and will provide access to that information under the provisions of the Privacy Act, subject to restrictions due to legal obligations.
Likewise, an individual can ask to view SSHRC’s records in an Access to Information Act request. SSHRC will gather all relevant records and prepare a release package. However, as permitted or required by law, SSHRC will not release personal information belonging to anyone other than the requester and will redact the information SSHRC is legally obligated to withhold. SSHRC will inform the requestor if it does not have under its control any records relating to a request; for example, documents related to merit review at the institutional level. SSHRC may also consult with third parties if needed.
While preparing the requested records, SSHRC will apply relevant sections of the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act as necessary, and will provide these sections to the requester as an explanation for why information is being withheld. Individuals have the right to file a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner or the Office of the Information Commissioner regarding the processing of their request.
10. Challenging Compliance
If you have any questions or enquiries concerning SSHRC’s compliance with the legislation and policies for the protection of personal information, address them in writing to the ATIP office by regular mail or email:
Manager, ATIP and Corporate Operations
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
350 Albert Street
P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6G4