On September 13 Manitoba’s new Personal Information Protection and Identity Theft Prevention Act SM2013, C.17 received royal assent. It still has to be proclaimed in force. When that happens, Manitoba will join British Columbia , Alberta , and Quebec with provincial private sector legislation protecting personal information. The legislation applies to “every organization and in respect of all personal information”. Organizations include corporations, unincorporated associations, unions, partnerships and individuals when they are acting in a commercial capacity. The legislation does not apply to public bodies or to personal information under the control of a public body. Public bodies are generally covered by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act . In addition, Manitoba also has a Privacy Act C.C.S.M. c. P125 which creates a cause of action for breach of privacy.
The legislation will fall under the umbrella of the Manitoba Ombudsman who is currently responsible for the FIPPA legislation. There does not, however, appear to be a complaint mechanism and the Ombudsman does not have order-making powers. The legislation does, however, create offences for willfully collecting, using or disclosing personal information in contravention of the legislation or for willfully attempting to gain or gaining access to personal information in contravention of the legislation. It is also an offence to dispose or alter, falsify, conceal or destroy personal information or any record relating to personal information, or direct another person to do so, with an intent to evade a request for access to the information or the record. These offences are subject to a summary conviction and fines of up to $10,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a person other than an individual. There is a defence of due diligence – “Neither an organization nor an individual is guilty of an offence under this Act if it is established to the satisfaction of the court that the organization or individual, as the case may be, acted reasonably in the circumstances that gave rise to the offence.” (s. 41) Otherwise, the legislation relies on the basic principle that personal information may only be collected, used and disclosed with the informed consent of the individual involved and, in many ways, mirrors the legislation in the other two western provinces. We will post another comment when the legislation comes into force.