Data protectioni Requirements for registration
Canadian law provides for both private-sector and public-sector privacy legislation. Depending on the jurisdiction in which they operate, private-sector employers in Canada are subject to either federal or provincial legislation governing the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) applies to federally regulated employers, as well as employers that are provincially regulated that operate in provinces that have not adopted substantially similar privacy legislation. To date, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia have enacted personal information legislation, which has been recognised as substantially similar to PIPEDA. In 2013, Manitoba passed private-sector privacy legislation that is not yet in force. It has not yet been determined whether this legislation is substantially similar to PIPEDA.
In addition to PIPEDA and provincial legislation dealing specifically with the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the private sector, employers may have additional statutory privacy obligations. For example, several provinces have enacted legislation, such as the British Columbia Privacy Act, which makes it an actionable wrong for one person, wilfully and without claim of right, to violate another's privacy. In Quebec, the CCQ and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms provide for additional privacy obligations.ii Cross-border data transfers
Under all Canadian privacy legislation, personal information is broadly defined as 'information about an identifiable individual', with certain exclusions. Sensitive information that would generally fall under the ambit of 'personal information' in Canadian privacy legislation would include, in particular, financial information, medical information, educational history, union membership or information relating to an employee's family background.iv Background checks
The validity of background checks varies greatly across Canadian jurisdictions. Generally, employers may perform a background check on prospective employees; however, certain jurisdictions limit criminal or credit checks. Human rights legislation and privacy legislation across the jurisdictions will limit the use of criminal or credit background check results, even if these types of background checks are permitted. Employee consent to background checks is almost always preferred, if not required in most Canadian jurisdictions.