Our submission in response to the Ontario consultation (private sector privacy law)

In a move of great significance to organizations doing business in Ontario, Ontario recently opened a consultation on private sector privacy regulation. It has invited input on a matter of legislative reform with potential consequences for the conduct of business in the province.

As legal counsel to Ontario private sector businesses targeted by this initiative, we have recently submitted our brief in which we address some of our key concerns which we are delighted to share (co-authors are Daniel Michaluk, Ira Parghi, Elisa henry and myself).

The private sector in Ontario has been subject to privacy regulation since the early 2000s with the enactment of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Since that time, Ontario businesses have developed an understanding of fair information practice principles, developed privacy programs and administered those programs. Business have done well in meeting their obligations, and have benefited from a principled and flexible form of regulation and reasonable uniformity in Canadian privacy regulation.

We appreciate the concerns that have led Ontario to consider legislative reform. The implementation of clear and well-balanced rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information is an important matter of consumer rights and a significant enabler of economic growth. Legislative reform federally and in other provinces is inevitable, and Ontario is a stakeholder without a voice if it does not engage with
potential legislative reform. However, the province has presented “made in Ontario” as a governing theme for reform even though any
further fragmentation of Canadian privacy law would do great harm to Ontario businesses. Ontario should consider forgoing the enactment of duplicative legislation altogether. If the province must aim to replace PIPEDA within its borders, the substance of Ontario’s law should be highly aligned with other Canadian privacy laws. We see no way for this to occur without strong dialogue between the province and other jurisdictions. And this is a dialogue that must occur immediately.

In this regard, Ontario should approach the adoption of rights brought in by European legislation very carefully. The rights to erasure and data portability, in particular, are too technical and potentially burdensome to business to be required by legislation that applies across all sectors. We also question whether they are essential to consumer privacy protection.

We respectfully ask Ontario to consider these ideas along with the five specific submissions further discussed in our brief.

This content has been updated on May 2, 2024 at 13 h 36 min.