On November 29, 2018, Bill 55, Safeguarding our Information Act, 2018, passed second reading in the Ontario legislature. Bill 55 seeks to amend Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, 2002 to require a consumer’s consent when a government institution requests that a lender obtain that consumer’s personal information with whom the lender has entered into a credit agreement. Similar amendments are being introduced to the Consumer Reporting Act and the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994.
Stephen Crawford, in introducing Bill 55, stated “[c]onsumers who enter credit agreements unavoidably disclose sensitive personal information, like credit history and data. Robust consumer protection laws are critical to protect consumers from unacceptable breaches of their privacy, and our privacy laws must be updated in order to enhance and safeguard Ontarians’ personal information.”
Bill 55 is partly a response to recent news that Statistics Canada plans to obtain the private financial information of 500,000 Canadians held by banks and credit reporting agencies in order to develop a new institutional personal information bank. The news prompted the federal Privacy Commissioner to launch an investigation into complaints that such information had been collected without any consent. Following public outcry, Statistics Canada announced that it will suspend the project while the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation is ongoing. If enacted, Bill 55 will allow Ontarians to opt out of disclosing personal data when faced with similar requests from government organizations.
Summary By: Anna Troshchynsky