Protection of Personal Information when Reporting on Small Populations

Date came into force or revised

In effect July 1, 2004; revised 2009



Policy statement

This policy is intended to prevent the possibility of associating statistical data with an identifiable individual. To protect the privacy of individuals, very small population numbers must be suppressed (masked) when reporting or otherwise publicly releasing aggregated data.

Rationale or purpose of policy

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a public body may disclose personal information for research or statistical purposes. Protection of privacy, however, must be ensured when information is reported.


Part 3, Division 2 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out the use and disclosure of personal information by public bodies and disclosure for research or statistical purposes.

Policy in full

This policy applies to all school, district and ministry staff responsible for reporting or otherwise publicly releasing personal information and any other organization reporting information provided by the Ministry of Education.

When reporting or otherwise publicly releasing information, numbers or percentages must be suppressed if they are from a population that numbers from one to nine individuals.

For example, if there were 9 students in a grade, no further information would be provided. That is, it would not be reported that of those 9 students, 7 were female and 2 male. On the other hand, if there were 10 students in a grade, it could be reported that 8 female students and 2 male students were in that grade.