On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada found
Alberta's Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)
to be invalid and gave Alberta's Legislature 12 months to make
To date, no amendments to PIPA have been tabled by the Alberta
government and the next session of the Alberta Legislature has been
delayed until November 17, 2014.
On September 22, 2014, Alberta's Information and Privacy
Commissioner wrote an open letter to Alberta's Premier, the
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and the Minister of
Service Alberta expressing concern over PIPA's inevitable lapse
as result of the delayed start to the session of the Alberta
If PIPA is allowed to lapse,
Alberta's citizens and businesses will lose the unique benefits
afforded by the legislation, including: mandatory breach reporting
and notification to affected individuals, local enforcement without
court involvement, and protection for the access and privacy rights
of employee of provincially-regulated private sector
As the oversight body for PIPA,
my office is receiving inquiries from the public and stakeholders
as to the status of the legislation. In addition, there are 280
PIPA cases currently open in the office – including breach
reports from organizations, complaint investigations, and
quasi-judicial inquiries – which will potentially be
affected in the event the legislation lapses.2
In response, Alberta's new Premier, Jim Prentice, declared
he would be seeking an extension from the Supreme Court with
respect to the amendment deadline. A motion extending the
suspension of the declaration of invalidity was filed in the
Supreme Court by the Attorney General of Alberta on October 1,
As it stands, PIPA is set to lapse on November 15, 2014 with no
game plan for privacy breaches, complaints or access requests
arising during any gap between PIPA's lapse and
Our advice for provincially regulated employers operating in
Alberta is to continue to comply with PIPA's obligations with
respect to the collection, use and disclosure of personal
information as well as any personal information access requests.
Failure to do so because of a lapse in the legislation is likely to
end up in confusion and privacy complaints following PIPA's
inevitable restoration. We also recommend that employers keep their
eye on the upcoming changes to PIPA. Any news on that front will be
communicated through this newsletter.
1 Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v.
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 (UFCW), 2013 SCC
62. Summary of case available at here.
2 Complete letter available on the Office of the
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta's website, www.oipc.ab.ca.
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