As previously reported in Workwise, on November 15, 2013, the
Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (the
“Act”), was declared invalid on constitutional grounds
by the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”) in the case
of Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United
Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 (UFCW), 2013 SCC
The SCC found that the Act violated the freedom of
expression protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms because it restricted a union’s ability to
collect, use, or disclose personal information during a lawful
strike, as well as for other legitimate labour relations purposes,
and because it did not include a mechanism by which a union’s
Charter protected right to freedom of expression could be
balanced with the privacy interests protected by the
The SCC declared the entire act invalid, finding that it was not
appropriate to pick and choose among various judicial amendments
that would make the Act compliant with the Charter given
its “comprehensive and integrated structure”. The SCC
suspended the declaration of invalidity for a 12 month period to
allow the Alberta legislature to amend the Act.
This suspension of invalidity was set to expire on November 15,
2014 but it was extended for an additional six months at the
Alberta government’s request. On November 18, 2014, the
Alberta government introduced Bill 3, the Personal Information
Protection Amendment Act (“Bill 3”). Bill 3
introduces an exception to the requirement for consent for the
collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by a trade
union in limited circumstances related to a labour relations
matter. This exception is subject to all of the following
conditions being 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
that purpose; and
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.
Bill 3 also includes regulation-making powers which allow the
Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the
collection, use, or disclosure of personal information by trade
According to Jill Clayton, Alberta’s Information and
Privacy Commissioner, the amendments contained in Bill 3 address
the issues raised by the SCC. The amendments seek to balance a
union’s right to freedom of expression with an
individual’s privacy interest by requiring that the matter
involving the trade union be one of “significant public
interest or importance relating to a labour relations
dispute” and by including a specific consideration of the
“nature and sensitivity” of the personal
Bill 3 passed its Third Reading in the Alberta Legislative
Assembly on December 1, 2014 and received Royal Assent on December
The amendments to the Act are limited in scope to
unions and labour relations activity. For employers and employees,
it is “business as usual” as all privacy rights and
obligations identified in the Act will continue to operate
as they have in the past.
However, more significant amendments or changes to the
Act may be on the horizon. Starting no later than July 1,
2015, a special committee of the Legislative Assembly will begin a
comprehensive review of the Act.
Field Law will continue to provide updates as the special
committee begins its review of the Act.
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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Labour and employment law had some interesting developments in 2016. What follows are a few highlights from the last year and an introduction to an issue that may attract significant attention in 2017.
Businesses and employers face exposure to a variety of claims for mismanagement or misuse of personal information by employees. Damages may depend on how sensitive the information is and how it is misused.
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