Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Self-Identification Questionnaire Privacy Impact Assessment Summary (2023)

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Self-Identification Questionnaire Privacy Impact Assessment Summary

Overview & PIA Initiation

Government institution
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Government official responsible for the Privacy Impact Assessment
Valérie La Traverse
Corporate Affairs Directorate

Head of the government institution or Delegate for section 10 of the Privacy Act
Miranda Gouchie
ATIP Coordinator
Corporate Affairs Directorate

Name of program or activity of the government institution

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Self-identification (self-ID) Data Collection

Description of the class of records associated with the program or activity

Class of records SSHRC FEL 220, SSHRC VGS 220, SSHRC BPF 220, SSHRC SHF 220, SSHRC INS 010, SSHRC RES 090, SSHRC PRE 010, SSHRC KMB 010, SSHRC FEL 241, SSHRC FEL 030, SSHRC NCE 010, SSHRC CEC 010

Grants and Awards Management Personal information Bank (PIB) SSHRC PPU 055

Legal authority for program or activity

Subsection 4(1)(a) of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act

Summary of the project/initiative/change

Overview of the program or activity

SSHRC is a federal research funding agency, created in 1977 under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act. The agency is part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) portfolio and reports to Parliament through the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Through its Talent, Insight and Connection programs, and through partnerships and collaborations, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world. SSHRC is committed to advancing research excellence through ongoing efforts, including EDI in the research enterprise: “Achieving equity, diversity and inclusion in the Canadian research enterprise is essential for continuing to generate the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and respond to national and global challenges.”

“To improve access to research support for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, SSHRC must have accurate data on who is participating in and receiving funding from programs.” SSHRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) use a harmonized questionnaire to collect self-ID personal information from individuals participating in funding opportunities. SSHRC collects self-identification information from all applicants, co-applicants, collaborators and merit review committee members. This data collection is intended to allow SSHRC to monitor the equity performance of its programs and, ultimately, as needed, design measures that achieve greater EDI. The agencies review and revise the questionnaire on a regular basis to ensure it reflects emerging standards.

SSHRC is encouraged to review and update all Grants and Awards Management PIBs that may be impacted by the EDI self-ID data collection practices, including recommendations provided in the assessment section.

Risk identification and categorization

A) Type of program or activity: Administration of programs/activities and services

Level of risk to privacy: 2

Details: SSHRC is a federal research funding agency, created in 1977 under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act. The agency is part of the ISED portfolio and reports to Parliament through the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

SSHRC’s role is to:

  • promote and support postsecondary based research and training in the social sciences and humanities; and
  • advise the minister on matters relating to social sciences and humanities research.

Through grants, fellowships and scholarships, SSHRC helps Canada’s researchers do what they do best: train the next generation of talented, creative thinkers and doers; build knowledge and understanding about people, cultures and societies; and drive the innovations that address the challenges of today and tomorrow.

As part of their commitment, the tri-agency members are integrating EDI considerations into their policies, processes, excellence indicators and evaluation criteria. Since its launch in 2018, the New Frontiers in Research Fund has formally embedded EDI requirements in its program design as a best practice.

Under the Tri-Agency EDI Action Plan submitted to TBS and the Canada Research Coordinating Committee, SSHRC has committed to establishing data reporting standards to be able to accurately track, monitor and inform decisions regarding equity, diversity and inclusion within the research community.

As part of this, in 2018 SSHRC began collecting self-identification information about the participation of underrepresented groups in its programs. Underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2SIA+ communities.

SSHRC merit reviewers (committee members, external assessors and expert panel members) are all volunteers, as well as potential applicants for research grants and fellowships by SSHRC or other agencies (NSERC, CIHR).

B) Type of personal information involved and context: Social Insurance Number (SIN), medical, financial or other sensitive personal information and/or the context surrounding the personal information is sensitive. Personal information of minors or incompetent individuals or involving a representative acting on behalf of the individual; and sensitive personal information, including detailed profiles, allegations or suspicions, bodily samples and/or the context surrounding the personal information is particularly sensitive.

Level of risk to privacy: 4

Details: Individual’s name; date of birth; contact information; SIN (where applicable); gender identity; sexual orientation; Indigenous identity; visible minority; population group type; person with disability; language spoken; language learned.

C) Program or activity partners and private sector involvement: Within the institution (among one or more programs within the same institution); with other federal institutions; with other or a combination of federal/provincial and/or municipal government(s); private sector organizations or international organizations or foreign governments

Level of risk to privacy: 4

Details: SSHRC supports research excellence and innovative ideas emanating from a research community of full-time university professors, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, as well as college faculty representing Canada’s postsecondary researchers. Through grants, fellowships and scholarships, SSHRC helps Canada’s researchers do what they do best.

SSHRC also oversees the delivery of a number of large programs that support interdisciplinary research and strengthen the overall research environment. Via the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, SSHRC administers these programs on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies: SSHRC, CIHR, and NSERC.

SSHRC works with academic institutions across Canada including some international institutions. Additionally, SSHRC collaborates and works with independent organizations, business partners, community groups, government partners, non-governmental organizations and international partners on various social science-related programs.

D) Duration of the program or activity: Long-term

Level of risk to privacy: 3

E) Program population: The program affects all individuals for external administrative purposes.

Level of risk to privacy: 4

F) Technology & privacy

  1. Does the new or modified program or activity involve the implementation of a new electronic system, software or application program including collaborative software (or groupware) that is implemented to support the program or activity in terms of the creation, collection or handling of personal information?

    Risk to privacy: No

  2. Does the new or modified program or activity require any modifications to IT legacy systems and/or services?

    Risk to privacy: Yes

  3. Does the new or modified program or activity involves the implementation of one or more of the following technologies?

    3.1 Enhanced identification methods

    Risk to privacy: Yes

    Details: The applicants and participants are required to provide personal information through a detailed chart for each item and identify their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, languages spoken and learned, disabilities.

    For project funding requests, applicants must provide additional personal information that will be cross-referenced with other systems containing the individual’s employment experience, affiliation to academic institution, education, credentials, publications, intellectual properties and copyrights, work related activities.

    SSHRC has stored the individual’s personal information across multiple corporate systems for use and disclosure.

    3.2 Use of Surveillance

    Risk to privacy: No

    3.3 Use of automated personal information analysis, personal information matching and knowledge discovery techniques

    Risk to privacy: Yes

    Details: The Business Intelligence (BI) Team creates reporting objects and report templates for the users (programs). User (in various programs) access is set up through the employee's supervisor for all access except EDI. If EDI access is required, the user will require director-level approval and the completed form that which specifies which BI system needs to be accessed for the EDI data. The user will be asked to attend EDI privacy training before being granted access to the data.

    SSHRC Data Team uses Business Objects to create reports using EDI data.

    EDI-related reports are prepared by the programs based on reports produced by Data Team.

    There is no known scheduled or unscheduled internal audit of the systems or the data. Data is collected annually by programs through the application process for various competitions.

    Equity, diversity and inclusion data collected from the self-identification questions are used to develop BI and data match to support making equitable funding and appointment decisions as well as committee membership appointments.

G) Personal information transmission

The personal information is used within a closed system; the personal information is used in a system that has connection to at least one other system; the personal information is transferred to a portable device or is printed; the personal information is transmitted using wireless technologies.

Level of risk to privacy: 4

H) Potential risk that in the event of a privacy breach, there will be an impact on the individual or employee

Inconvenience; reputation harm, embarrassment; financial harm; physical harm

Level of risk to privacy: 4

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