Statistics Canada

Every five years the government of Canada surveys the entire population. The purposes for the census include determining the federal population, the number of seats in Parliament each province should be allocated and apportionment of federal money to provinces for social programs that is based on population figures. In order to protect the privacy of the confidential information the government collects, all census workers take an oath of secrecy and punishment can result if the oath is breached. Also, the census form is considered privileged, meaning the information contained in it cannot be used in court against you, nor can a census worker testify about the form.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA)

When Canadians file their tax returns to the government annually, they are providing confidential information that is very attractive to identity thieves. Therefore, it is vital for the CCRA to ensure proper protection of the personal information it collects. As a result, CCRA employees are required to follow strict secrecy rules. Similar to Statistics Canada, the CCRA cannot be compelled to give evidence in court based on the information they receive. However, information collected may be shared within governmental departments for a variety of reasons. Additionally, you are still compellable by the courts to disclose this information—only CCRA employees are restricted.

Health Information

As mentioned before, health information is covered under several different pieces of legislation. In Alberta, the Health Information Act (AHIA) applies to health information and its disclosure. Under AHIA, the goal is to balance patient’s right to privacy and the importance of collection, use and disclosure of information. Generally speaking, AHIA applies to the public health sector. It requires the protection of three different types of information. Firstly, AHIA protects diagnostic, treatment and care information. Second, it protects registration information such as name, address and health care number required for hospital stays. Thirdly, information collected about providers of health services is regulated. The general rule is that for personal information to be protected under AHIA, it must be personally identifiable and not group data not attached to an individual.

Police Information Sharing

Information gathered by police can be of a personal and private nature and its protection is important. For example, reports generated from an incident are entered into the Police Information Retrieval System (“PIRS”), which serves as a database of information about crimes that is accessible by police officers and civilian staff. However, these officers and staff must have security clearance to have access. There is also the Canadian Police Information Centre (“CPIC”), which is a centralized database maintained by police forces in the country. The CPIC contains information about wanted persons, criminal records and stolen vehicle information. Local police officers can access the CPIC in order to respond to and investigate an incident.