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Canadian Privacy Law: Federal Government Proposes Significant Reform

Business Law

Author: Adam Bosma

Canadian Government Proposes Significant Privacy Legislation Amendments

On November 17, 2020, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains introduced for first reading Bill C-11 The Digital Charter Implementation Act (the “Bill”) which, if enacted in the form first proposed, would replace Part 1 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) with the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (“CPPA”) and introduce the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, establishing a Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) responsible for hearing findings of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“Commissioner”) as well as appeals under the proposed privacy regime. As of the date of this writing, the Bill has not had its second reading, but has attracted commentary from industry and privacy experts both inside and outside Canada, as the government seeks input on privacy modernization.

The Bill signals the Federal Government’s desire to modernize Canada’s privacy laws in important ways.  Should the CPPA as set out in the Bill become law, it would change the way private sector organizations gather, use and store Canadians’ personal information, as well as expanding Canadians’ rights with respect to their own stored information.  Highlights of these data collection and management changes include:

Private sector organizations should also take note of the following penalty provisions, which if adopted would be the strictest of their kind adopted in any G7 country:

Bill C-11 is likely to attract further attention from domestic industry and privacy experts, Canada’s trading partners abroad and certainly foreign organizations that collect and store Canadians’ personal information. With review of Canada’s ‘adequacy status’ under the European Union’s GDPR data and privacy regime on the horizon, Canada is under mounting pressure to modernize its privacy laws and particularly PIPEDA, which was granted adequacy status in 2001 and reaffirmed in 2006.

We will be monitoring the progress of Bill C-11 through the House of Commons and will provide further updates.  Should you have any questions or require assistance with your own privacy obligations, please feel free to reach out for specific legal advice.

Contact: Adam Bosma, phone: 604.891.1158, email: abosma@meplaw.ca

For further reading, see the following:

Statement from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada following the tabling of Bill C-11 November 19, 2020

Statement from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, November 17, 2020

Canada Trade Commissioner: The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, modified November 20, 2020

This bulletin is intended as a summary only and should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice to any specific client or regarding any specific situation.