In Canada, there are many statutes governing privacy both at the federal and provincial levels.
What are the privacy laws in Canada you may ask?
Let’s go over the main statutes applicable to data privacy in Canada.
Factors defining what privacy law applies in Canada
Considering there are many privacy laws in Canada, you’ll need to evaluate a few factors to help you determine which statute may apply to a given circumstance.
Will the federal privacy law apply?
Perhaps a provincial law?
Or even a sector-specific law?
The factors you’ll need to consider are:
- Nature of the organization handling personal information
- Where is the organization based
- The type of information handled by the organization
- Is the information handled within the same province of does it cross provincial or national borders
Based on the above factors, you can specifically identify the applicable privacy law.
Federal privacy laws
In Canada, the federal government has adopted privacy laws intended to protect personal information of individuals.
The federal laws are enforced by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The federal privacy laws are:
Provincial privacy laws
There are three Canadian provinces that have adopted privacy laws governing the handling of personal information in the private sector.
Each of these three provinces has also created its own agencies to enforce their provincial privacy laws.
When the application conditions of the provincial privacy laws are met, PIPEDA will not apply.
Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have adopted the following privacy laws:
- Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) – Alberta
- Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) – British Columbia
- Act Respecting The Protection of Personal Information In the Private Sector – Quebec
Provincial health-related privacy laws
Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have adopted health-related privacy laws that are deemed to be substantially similar to the protections afforded by PIPEDA.
As a result, when they apply, PIPEDA does not apply.
The health-related privacy laws are:
- Personal Health Information Protection Act – Ontario
- Personal Health Information Privacy And Access Act – New Brunswick
- Personal Health Information Act – Newfoundland and Labrador
- Personal Health Information Act – Nova Scotia
Sector-specific privacy laws
In addition to the federal and provincial privacy laws, there are some sector-specific laws governing specific industries or types of companies.
Here are the sector-specific laws with privacy provisions:
- The Bank Act
- Provincial laws governing credit unions
- Provincial laws governing consumer credit reporting
Online tool related to privacy issues
To help you identify what privacy law applies when operating in Canada, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has developed an online privacy tool helping you navigate in the right direction.
Using the online tool, you can find the right organization to contact when you are confronted with a privacy issue.