March 11, 2021

The federal government recently introduced the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, which contains the most ambitious changes to Canada’s privacy law in decades. In Ontario, the provincial government has taken steps toward creating a private sector privacy statute.

In this session, some of Canada’s foremost privacy law experts will review the current state of Canadian workplace privacy law, both federal and provincial, and will discuss whether currently proposed changes adequately regulate the increased use of emerging technologies in the employment context, especially during pandemic and post-pandemic periods. Questions to be addressed include the following:

  • What laws currently govern employer collection and use of personal employee information?
  • How does distinguishing “employee personal information” from other types of “personal information,” as done in Alberta’s and British Columbia’s private sector privacy statutes, affect workplace privacy rights?
  • How is Ontario’s proposed private sector privacy legislation likely to affect Ontario employers’ management of employment relationships?
  • Do proposed changes to federal privacy law adequately address the criticism that existing privacy statutes, with their emphasis on notice and consent, are inadequate to deal with the reality of mass data collection and analysis?
  • How, if at all, are federal legislative changes aimed at ensuring that consent to the collection and use of personal information is more informed and meaningful likely to affect federally regulated employment relationships?
  • As data collection, sharing, and analysis become easier, is a more pronounced move toward a “rights-based” approach to privacy, as advocated by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner in his 2018–2019 Annual Report, necessary to address the concern that employees may increasingly be subjected to “unjustified surveillance” by employers?
  • Are provisions in the Digital Charter Implementation Act requiring any organization that uses automated decision processes to explain how the automated decision system makes its decisions adequate to address union and worker concerns about algorithmic management?
  • Do any of the currently proposed amendments to federal or provincial privacy laws address surveillance practices related to working from home, such as monitoring employees through “always on” digital cameras or using software to track active time on various applications?