Federal, Provincial and Territorial Information and Privacy Commissioners and Ombudsman issue joint resolution about privacy and access to information rights during and after a pandemic
In a joint resolution, Canada’s Information and Privacy regulators called on their respective governments to respect Canadians’ quasi-constitutional rights to privacy and access to information. The regulators took note of the serious impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the right of access to information and privacy rights in Canada and called on governments to use the lessons learned during the pandemic to improve these rights.
The global pandemic has brought to the forefront the pressing need for strong access to information and privacy laws. The regulators noted that the pandemic has accelerated trends that were ongoing prior to March 2020, namely concerns among the public about increasing surveillance by public bodies and private corporations and the slowing down of processing access requests. The pandemic has also highlighted the need to modernize the access to information system by leveraging technology and innovation to advance transparency.
Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ron Kruzeniski, Q.C., stated:
“There is no doubt that technology and digitization have been instrumental in the response to the pandemic. As we work towards recovery, I encourage authorities to consider the impact such initiatives have on our access and privacy rights. The lessons we have learned during this global crisis should be used to modernize our access and privacy legislation. Digitization is here to stay. It is time our legislation reflected that.”
The joint resolution adopted 11 access to information and privacy principles and called on Canada’s governments to show leadership by implementing them and making the modernization of legislative and governance regimes around freedom of information and protection of privacy a priority.
Kara Philip, Manager of Communication
Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner