We last commented on the Alberta Court of Appeal decision in United Food in an October 2012 Nymity interview.

The Alberta Court of Appeal found that, to the extent the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act prohibited the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 from collecting, using or disclosing images of individuals at or near a picket line during the course of a lawful strike, those PIPA provisions impermissibly infringed on the Union’s freedom of expression as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).

On June 11, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard argument on an appeal from the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal (UFCW SCC Case Summary 34890).

A number of organizations were granted leave to intervene and provide submissions to the Court in United Food: the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the Coalition of British Columbia Business and Merit Canada, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia and the Alberta Federation of Labour.

The United Food case was heard along with Bernard v. Attorney General of Canada, a case involving a Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) employee who declined to join the Union (Public Service of Canada) and who sought to prevent the CRA from disclosing her home contact information to the Union. Ms. Bernard brought a judicial review application in relation to an order of the Public Service Labour Relations Board which authorized the disclosure of her home contact information to the Union without her consent, subject to certain safeguards. The PSLRB subsequently found that disclosure of Ms. Bernard’s information was authorized by the federal Privacy Act because the Union’s intended use of the information was consistent for the purpose for which the information was obtained by her employer, the CRA. The Board refused to consider Ms. Bernard’s Charter argument that the disclosure of the information violated her freedom not to associate. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed Ms. Bernard’s application for judicial review on the basis that the Board’s decision was reasonable (Elizabeth Bernard v. Attorney General of Canada et al).

It will be very interesting to see how the Supreme Court of Canada approaches the interesting privacy and Charter issues raised in these cases.