TORONTO, ON (June 14, 2022) – In the IPC’s 2021 annual report, released today, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Patricia Kosseim, renewed her call for a provincial private sector privacy law and updates to the province’s existing privacy and access regime.
“Ontario’s access and privacy laws were enacted long before any of the current technological solutions were even imaginable,” wrote Commissioner Kosseim. “As we hurtle toward a progressively digital world, Ontario’s access and privacy laws must catch up to these technological advances and ensure they reflect the society they are meant to regulate.”
Access and privacy rights for all Ontarians play a vital role in ensuring that the very cornerstones of an equitable digital Ontario are of solid construction, built to support the weight of the ever-expanding digital infrastructure of our online existence.
“Privacy laws that do not incentivize proactive risk mitigation, require notification in the event of data breaches, or regulate the increasing role of private sector actors are no longer fit for today’s realities,” added Commissioner Kosseim. “An access to information regime that takes years to process requests and obtain data that may have entirely lost its relevance is not a sustainable basis on which to build Ontario’s promising digital future.”
Some of the IPC’s major recommendations in its 2021 Annual Report include:
A made-in-Ontario private sector privacy law
In today’s increasingly digital landscape, Ontario needs its own modern, efficient, and effective private sector privacy law with enhanced privacy protections tailored to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Ontario. The government’s consultations on a made-in-Ontario private sector privacy law last year were promising but remain incomplete. It’s now up to the new government to pick up the mantle and actively pursue these efforts by leveraging the momentum toward stronger and more integrated privacy protection for all Ontarians.
Support digital literacy skills in schools
While digital technologies offer undeniable opportunities for young people to connect, learn, and collaborate in ways that never existed before, the benefits also come with real world safety and privacy risks. It is essential to equip children and youth with the skills they need to navigate the digital environment safely and ethically. This includes a solid understanding of their privacy rights, taught as part of the Ontario primary and secondary school curricula.
Move forward with administrative penalties under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)
Significant amendments to PHIPA were introduced in 2020, but have yet to take effect, pending the adoption of regulations. One of those amendments sets out the IPC’s power to impose administrative monetary penalties for serious breaches of Ontario’s health privacy law. We urge the government to set forth the details of the administrative penalty scheme in regulations without further delay. Ontarians urgently need the assurance of knowing there will be real consequences imposed on the few bad actors who undermine the confidence of our province’s health care system.
The commissioner’s full recommendations, the year in review, and comprehensive statistics, including freedom of information requests, compliance rates, appeals and privacy complaints, are available at www.ipc.on.ca/about-us/annual-reports.
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