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Queen's University

Office of the Access and Privacy Coordinator

Policy on Emergency Disclosure of Students' Personal Information


The purpose of this policy is to provide advice for members of faculty and staff regarding circumstances in which disclosure of personal information is warranted

Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act permits the disclosure of personal information in"compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual", and in"compassionate circumstances, to facilitate contact with the spouse, or a close relative or a friend of an individual who is injured, ill or deceased."

Occasionally, circumstances arise in which it is appropriate for a member of faculty or staff to disclose personal information about a student to the Counselling Service or the Emergency Report Centre as described below. These situations arise when a member of faculty or staff develops a concern about a student's personal health or safety, or the safety of others.

Personal Health or Safety Examples

  • Behaviour that is either
    (i) clearly out of character for the student or
    (ii) that appears "odd" or very unusual to the observer (e.g. rapid speech, disorganized thinking, suspiciousness)
  • Clear evidence of marked problems with controlling emotions (e.g. crying, angry outbursts)
  • Explicit mention of suicide
  • Evidence that suggests a significant health problem (e.g. emaciated state)

The appropriate response in these circumstances:

Contact the Counselling Service (ext. 78264) and ask to speak to a counsellor.

The counsellor will provide advice to guide the member of staff/faculty on the appropriate response.

Safety of Others Examples

  • Explicit mention of a plan to hurt someone else
  • Explicit mention of a wish to hurt someone else

The appropriate response in these circumstances:

Contact the Emergency Report Centre (36111) and speak to the on-duty supervisor.

Members of faculty and staff are encouraged
(i) to be alert to signs of distress or disturbance in students and
(ii) to know how to respond to these.

A pamphlet to assist in these activities "How you Can Identify and Help Students in Distress: Some Suggestions for Faculty and Staff" is available from the Health, Counselling and Disability Services web site (select the "Students in Distress - Advice for Faculty" link on the home page).


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000