In this decision, the SCC struck down PIPA in its entirety on
the basis that it infringed the right to freedom of expression of
the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 (Union) by
restricting the Union's collection, use and disclosure of
personal information for legitimate labour relations purposes. The
SCC issued a suspended declaration of invalidity for a period of 12
months to give the Alberta government the opportunity to amend
PIPA. This deadline was recently extended by the SCC on October 30,
2014 to provide the Alberta government with an additional six
months to legislate in response to the SCC's ruling.
Bill 3: Personal Information Protection Amendment
The proposed amendments, found in Bill 3, the Personal
Information Protection Amendment Act and described in detail
below, specifically address collection, use and disclosure of
personal information by a trade union in connection with a labour
dispute. Bill 3 passed first reading in the Alberta legislature on
November 18, 2014, and has also been endorsed by the Information
and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta in a November 20, 2014
press release. In general, the proposed amendments to PIPA are
in line with commentary from the Alberta government and industry
expectations that changes to PIPA will be limited in scope to
unions and labour relations activity.
Bill 3 allows for collection, use and disclosure of personal
information by a trade union, without the consent of the individual
to whom the personal information pertains, where all of the
following conditions are met:
The collection, use or disclosure of personal information is
for the purpose of informing or persuading the public about a
matter of significant public interest or importance relating to a
labour relations dispute involving the trade union
The collection, use or disclosure is reasonably necessary for
It is reasonable to collect, use or disclose the personal
information without consent for that purpose, taking into
consideration all relevant circumstances, including the nature and
sensitivity of the information.
A trade union's ability to collect, use or disclose personal
information without consent in these circumstances is subject to
forthcoming regulations. The Information and Privacy Commissioner
of Alberta has indicated that she hopes to be consulted on any
proposed regulations to address potential implications for privacy
As noted above, the proposed amendments to PIPA align with past
government commentary and industry expectations as to the nature
and scope of the intended changes. The intrigue lies in the balance
that is struck between recognizing the importance of expressive
activity in the labour relations context—which is limited by
the concept of "significant public interest or
importance"—and protecting privacy, including specific
consideration of the nature and sensitivity of the personal
information at issue.
Assuming that Bill 3 becomes law, trade unions and management
personnel will want to pay particular attention to the
interpretation and application of these principles in the context
of future labour disputes. In addition, all readers will want to
keep in mind that broader changes to PIPA may be ahead given that
PIPA requires a comprehensive review of its provisions starting no
later than July 1, 2015.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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