Enforcement of Canada’s Access and Privacy Legislation

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To enforce Information Access and Protection of Privacy legislation, jurisdictions have formed different oversight bodies. In Canada, the two most popular are the ‘adjudicative’ commissioner, with binding order-making power, and the ‘advisory’ commissioner or Ombudsman, which can make recommendations, but has no authority to make orders. Should the Commissioner’s decision be unsatisfactory, an application for judicial review can be made to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

In Alberta, reporting directly to the Legislative Assembly, independent of the government, is the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), who through her Office, performs legislative and regulatory responsibilities set out in Alberta’s three access and privacy laws (FOIP, HIA, and PIPA). Additional to her powers to hear and respond to complaints and investigate alleged breaches of legislation, the OIPC educates the public about the Acts along with their rights, engages in purposeful research, and provides independent and impartial reviews efficiently, in a timely manner.

When the Office of the Alberta Ombudsman’s team investigates a complaint, the assigned investigator conducts research and performs interviews, reviews legislation, regulations and policies and reports to the Ombudsman, who can then make recommendations to the Deputy Minister or administrative head of the organization.  More specifically, the Ombudsman is the designated third-party review mechanism for Albertans who have complaints about one of the specified health professional bodies under the Health Professions Act, if that person does not believe they have received a fair response under the patient concerns resolution process.

Other Officers of the Legislative Assembly, ‘promoting integrity and ensuring accountability and transparency in the public service in Alberta’ (https://www.assembly.ab.ca/links.htm ) also include the Attorney General, Chief Electoral Officer, Child and Youth Advocate and formally, the Ethics Commissioner.

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