Special Committee includes CBABC recommendations in final PIPA report

  • December 14, 2021

The BC Legislative Assembly’s Special Committee to Review the Personal Information Protection Act released their final report, Modernizing British Columbia’s Private Sector Privacy Law, to government on December 6, 2021.

This final report included many of the recommendations made by CBABC in our August 2020 submission to the Special Committee:

  1. CBABC recommended the Special Committee consider whether concerns specific to personal health information are best addressed by creating a purpose-built health care-specific health information act. 

In its final report, the Special Committee recommends that the provincial government create legislation dedicated to governing the collection, use and disclosure of health information in the public and private sectors (recommendation #26).

  1. CBABC recommended amendments to PIPA based on developments in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and future developments in PIPEDA to help maintain PIPA’s “substantially similar” status to PIPEDA as well as Canada’s “adequacy” status to EU privacy laws, to the extent that they make sense within the BC context, and that prior consultations on reform be structured as widely as possible.

The Special Committee recommended the provincial government ensure that PIPA meets GDPR and anticipated federal adequacy requirements (recommendation #1) and update PIPA with a focus on prioritizing interoperability with other provincial and international legislation, including the GDPR (recommendation #2).

  1. CBABC recommended the government amend PIPA to include mandatory privacy breach notification, and ensure that any such regime is consistent, to the extent reasonably possible, with other breach notification regimes in Canada and internationally.

In its final report, the Special Committee recommends that the provincial government: a) include provisions in PIPA similar to those in other jurisdictions to require organizations to promptly notify the OIPC and affected individuals of a privacy breach, with consideration for proportionality regarding the severity of the breach (recommendation #13), and b) ensure that PIPA allows for various direct methods of communication to notify affected individuals of a breach, including email, text, phone call or regular mail (recommendation #14).

  1. CBABC also raised concerns about solicitor-client privilege, and the need to add a provision to prohibit the Commissioner from publicly disclosing information obtained by it in the course of an investigation.

In this regard, the Special Committee made no specific recommendation but noted: “The Law Society of BC raised concerns with respect to PIPA’s potential impact on solicitor-client privilege and noted that Section 3(3) of PIPA states that ‘nothing in this Act affects solicitor-client privilege.’ However, Section 38(5) of PIPA states that any evidence requested by the Commissioner must be turned over, regardless of any legal privileges. The Law Society of BC and the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, highlighted the potential conflict between these provisions in PIPA, and emphasized that the right of solicitor-client privilege and claims of privilege should be adjudicated by a judge, not by the Commissioner.”

We thank and congratulate the volunteers from the Freedom of Information & Privacy Law Section for their hard work preparing this submission.

Read the CBABC Submission to the Special Committee

Read the Special Committee’s Final Report, Modernizing British Columbia’s Private Sector Privacy Law