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Privacy Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. P-21)

Full Document:  

Act current to 2022-11-16 and last amended on 2022-10-01. Previous Versions

Exemptions (continued)

Responsibilities of Government (continued)

Marginal note:Federal-provincial affairs

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct by the Government of Canada of federal-provincial affairs.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “20”

Marginal note:International affairs and defence

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada, as defined in subsection 15(2) of the Access to Information Act, or the efforts of Canada toward detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities, as defined in subsection 15(2) of the Access to Information Act, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, any such information listed in paragraphs 15(1)(a) to (i) of the Access to Information Act.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “21”

Marginal note:Law enforcement and investigation

  •  (1) The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1)

    • (a) that was obtained or prepared by any government institution, or part of any government institution, that is an investigative body specified in the regulations in the course of lawful investigations pertaining to

      • (i) the detection, prevention or suppression of crime,

      • (ii) the enforcement of any law of Canada or a province, or

      • (iii) activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada within the meaning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act,

      if the information came into existence less than twenty years prior to the request;

    • (b) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the enforcement of any law of Canada or a province or the conduct of lawful investigations, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, any such information

      • (i) relating to the existence or nature of a particular investigation,

      • (ii) that would reveal the identity of a confidential source of information, or

      • (iii) that was obtained or prepared in the course of an investigation; or

    • (c) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the security of penal institutions.

  • Marginal note:Policing services for provinces or municipalities

    (2) The head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was obtained or prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while performing policing services for a province or municipality pursuant to an arrangement made under section 20 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, where the Government of Canada has, on the request of the province or municipality, agreed not to disclose such information.

  • Marginal note:Definition of investigation

    (3) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b), investigation means an investigation that

    • (a) pertains to the administration or enforcement of an Act of Parliament;

    • (b) is authorized by or pursuant to an Act of Parliament; or

    • (c) is within a class of investigations specified in the regulations.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “22”
  • 1984, c. 21, s. 90, c. 40, s. 79(E)

Marginal note:Information obtained by Privacy Commissioner

  •  (1) The Privacy Commissioner shall refuse to disclose any personal information requested under this Act that was obtained or created by the Commissioner or on the Commissioner’s behalf in the course of an investigation conducted by, or under the authority of, the Commissioner or that was obtained by the Commissioner in the course of a consultation with the Information Commissioner under subsection 36(1.1) or section 36.2 of the Access to Information Act.

  • Marginal note:Exception

    (2) However, the Commissioner shall not refuse under subsection (1) to disclose any personal information that was created by the Commissioner or on the Commissioner’s behalf in the course of an investigation conducted by, or under the authority of, the Commissioner once the investigation and all related proceedings, if any, are finally concluded.

Marginal note:Public Sector Integrity Commissioner

 The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner shall refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was obtained or created by him or her or on his or her behalf in the course of an investigation into a disclosure made under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act or an investigation commenced under section 33 of that Act.

  • 2005, c. 46, s. 58

Marginal note:Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act

 The head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was created for the purpose of making a disclosure under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act or in the course of an investigation into a disclosure under that Act.

  • 2005, c. 46, s. 58

Marginal note:Secretariat of National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians

 The Secretariat of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians shall refuse to disclose personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was obtained or created by it or on its behalf in the course of assisting the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians in fulfilling its mandate.

  • 2017, c. 15, s. 45

Marginal note:Security clearances

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was obtained or prepared by an investigative body specified in the regulations for the purpose of determining whether to grant security clearances

  • (a) required by the Government of Canada or a government institution in respect of individuals employed by or performing services for the Government of Canada or a government institution, individuals employed by or performing services for a person or body performing services for the Government of Canada or a government institution, individuals seeking to be so employed or seeking to perform those services, or

  • (b) required by the government of a province or a foreign state or an institution thereof,

if disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of the individual who furnished the investigative body with the information.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “23”

Marginal note:Individuals sentenced for an offence

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that was collected or obtained by the Correctional Service of Canada or the Parole Board of Canada while the individual who made the request was under sentence for an offence against any Act of Parliament, if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to

  • (a) lead to a serious disruption of the individual’s institutional, parole or statutory release program; or

  • (b) reveal information about the individual originally obtained on a promise of confidentiality, express or implied.

  • R.S., 1985, c. P-21, s. 24
  • 1994, c. 26, s. 56
  • 2012, c. 1, s. 160

Marginal note:Safety of individuals

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to threaten the safety of individuals.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “25”

Personal Information

Marginal note:Information about another individual

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) about an individual other than the individual who made the request, and shall refuse to disclose such information where the disclosure is prohibited under section 8.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “26”

Privilege and Professional Secrecy

Marginal note:Protected information — solicitors, advocates and notaries

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or the professional secrecy of advocates and notaries or to litigation privilege.

Marginal note:Protected information — patents and trademarks

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that is subject to the privilege set out in section 16.1 of the Patent Act or section 51.13 of the Trademarks Act.

Medical Records

Marginal note:Medical record

 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any personal information requested under subsection 12(1) that relates to the physical or mental health of the individual who requested it where the examination of the information by the individual would be contrary to the best interests of the individual.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “28”

Complaints

Marginal note:Receipt and investigation of complaints

  •  (1) Subject to this Act, the Privacy Commissioner shall receive and investigate complaints

    • (a) from individuals who allege that personal information about themselves held by a government institution has been used or disclosed otherwise than in accordance with section 7 or 8;

    • (b) from individuals who have been refused access to personal information requested under subsection 12(1);

    • (c) from individuals who allege that they are not being accorded the rights to which they are entitled under subsection 12(2) or that corrections of personal information requested under paragraph 12(2)(a) are being refused without justification;

    • (d) from individuals who have requested access to personal information in respect of which a time limit has been extended pursuant to section 15 where they consider the extension unreasonable;

    • (e) from individuals who have not been given access to personal information in the official language requested by the individuals under subsection 17(2);

    • (e.1) from individuals who have not been given access to personal information in an alternative format pursuant to a request made under subsection 17(3);

    • (f) from individuals who have been required to pay a fee that they consider inappropriate;

    • (g) in respect of the index referred to in subsection 11(1); or

    • (h) in respect of any other matter relating to

      • (i) the collection, retention or disposal of personal information by a government institution,

      • (ii) the use or disclosure of personal information under the control of a government institution, or

      • (iii) requesting or obtaining access under subsection 12(1) to personal information.

  • Marginal note:Complaints submitted on behalf of complainants

    (2) Nothing in this Act precludes the Privacy Commissioner from receiving and investigating complaints of a nature described in subsection (1) that are submitted by a person authorized by the complainant to act on behalf of the complainant, and a reference to a complainant in any other section includes a reference to a person so authorized.

  • Marginal note:Privacy Commissioner may initiate complaint

    (3) Where the Privacy Commissioner is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to investigate a matter under this Act, the Commissioner may initiate a complaint in respect thereof.

  • R.S., 1985, c. P-21, s. 29
  • 1992, c. 21, s. 37

Marginal note:Written complaint

 A complaint under this Act shall be made to the Privacy Commissioner in writing unless the Commissioner authorizes otherwise.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “30”

Investigations

Marginal note:Notice of intention to investigate

 Before commencing an investigation of a complaint under this Act, the Privacy Commissioner shall notify the head of the government institution concerned of the intention to carry out the investigation and shall inform the head of the institution of the substance of the complaint.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “31”

Marginal note:Regulation of procedure

 Subject to this Act, the Privacy Commissioner may determine the procedure to be followed in the performance of any duty or function of the Commissioner under this Act.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “32”

Marginal note:Investigations in private

  •  (1) Every investigation of a complaint under this Act by the Privacy Commissioner shall be conducted in private.

  • Marginal note:Right to make representation

    (2) In the course of an investigation of a complaint under this Act by the Privacy Commissioner, the person who made the complaint and the head of the government institution concerned shall be given an opportunity to make representations to the Commissioner, but no one is entitled as of right to be present during, to have access to or to comment on representations made to the Commissioner by any other person.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. II “33”

Marginal note:Powers of Privacy Commissioner in carrying out investigations

  •  (1) The Privacy Commissioner has, in relation to the carrying out of the investigation of any complaint under this Act, power

    • (a) to summon and enforce the appearance of persons before the Privacy Commissioner and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce such documents and things as the Commissioner deems requisite to the full investigation and consideration of the complaint, in the same manner and to the same extent as a superior court of record;

    • (b) to administer oaths;

    • (c) to receive and accept such evidence and other information, whether on oath or by affidavit or otherwise, as the Privacy Commissioner sees fit, whether or not the evidence or information is or would be admissible in a court of law;

    • (d) to enter any premises occupied by any government institution on satisfying any security requirements of the institution relating to the premises;

    • (e) to converse in private with any person in any premises entered pursuant to paragraph (d) and otherwise carry out therein such inquiries within the authority of the Privacy Commissioner under this Act as the Commissioner sees fit; and

    • (f) to examine or obtain copies of or extracts from books or other records found in any premises entered pursuant to paragraph (d) containing any matter relevant to the investigation.

  • Marginal note:Access to information

    (2) Despite any other Act of Parliament, any privilege under the law of evidence, solicitor-client privilege or the professional secrecy of advocates and notaries and litigation privilege, and subject to subsection (2.1), the Privacy Commissioner may, during the investigation of any complaint under this Act, examine any information recorded in any form under the control of a government institution, other than a confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada to which subsection 70(1) applies, and no information that the Commissioner may examine under this subsection may be withheld from the Commissioner on any grounds.

  • Marginal note:Protected information — solicitors, advocates and notaries

    (2.1) The Privacy Commissioner may examine information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or the professional secrecy of advocates and notaries or to litigation privilege only if the head of a government institution refuses to disclose the information under section 27.

  • Marginal note:For greater certainty

    (2.2) For greater certainty, the disclosure by the head of a government institution to the Privacy Commissioner of information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or the professional secrecy of advocates and notaries or to litigation privilege does not constitute a waiver of those privileges or that professional secrecy.

  • Marginal note:Evidence in other proceedings

    (3) Except in a prosecution of a person for an offence under section 131 of the Criminal Code (perjury) in respect of a statement made under this Act, in a prosecution for an offence under this Act or in a review before the Court under this Act or an appeal therefrom, evidence given by a person in proceedings under this Act and evidence of the existence of the proceedings is inadmissible against that person in a court or in any other proceedings.

  • Marginal note:Witness fees

    (4) Any person summoned to appear before the Privacy Commissioner pursuant to this section is entitled in the discretion of the Commissioner to receive the like fees and allowances for so doing as if summoned to attend before the Federal Court.

  • Marginal note:Return of documents, etc.

    (5) Any document or thing produced pursuant to this section by any person or government institution shall be returned by the Privacy Commissioner within ten days after a request is made to the Commissioner by that person or government institution, but nothing in this subsection precludes the Commissioner from again requiring its production in accordance with this section.

 
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