Commissioner Brian Beamish submitted comments to the Standing Committee on Social Policy on Bill 59, Schedule 2 of Bill 59, Putting Consumers First Act, 2016.

The Bill includes measures to enable better enforcement of payday lending practices. The submission focuses specifically on the privacy implications of a payday loan tracking database.

The Commissioner does not support any proposal to establish a central loan tracking database without first evaluating the effectiveness of other consumer protection measures contained in Bill 59. In his view, a government-controlled database, which involves the mandatory and systematic collection, use and disclosure of sensitive personal information of individuals resulting from their dealings with private-sector lenders, would be significantly invasive of personal privacy interests.

There are significant risks of unauthorized access to, and secondary uses of, the database and the sensitive financial and other personal information it would contain. Further, a tracking database has the potential to stigmatize a vulnerable sector of society and erode trust in government.

Consequently, the Commissioner recommends that further research and study be undertaken of the other consumer protection measures contained in the Bill.