Commissioner Brian Beamish appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy today to provide the IPC’s views on Bill 89, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017.
While the IPC appreciates the Ministry of Children and Youth Services introducing legislation with a goal of enhancing privacy across the child, youth and family services sector, we believe there are still a number of significant privacy issues that need to be addressed.
The proposed legislation greatly expands the ministry’s power to collect, use and disclose the sensitive information of those receiving child and youth services. In fact, the ministry will have the power to require the disclosure of this information. The ministry will not be subject to the same privacy rules as other service providers in the sector and will continue to operate under very out-dated public sector privacy rules. In light of these expanded powers, we believe that the ministry must be subject to a greater degree of accountability and oversight than what is currently provided.
The Commissioner recommended that the proposed legislation be amended to narrow the ministry’s powers to collect, use and disclose personal information to that which reasonably necessary and to strengthen privacy safeguards for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. For example, strong safeguards are needed when the ministry collects personal information across the child, youth and family sector for the purpose of planning and managing the delivery of services and when personal information is collected, used or disclosed for research purposes. Further, the authority to share personal information among government organizations and to disclose personal information to persons and entities that are not even prescribed in the regulations must be removed from the legislation.
These amendments are necessary to protect the privacy of some of our most vulnerable citizens, specifically children and youth.