Speech to the BC Library Association on Bill 38 – Personal Information Protection Act – May 30, 2003

Darrel Evans, executive director of BC FIPA, was in Victoria today to deliver a speech at the BC Library Association Annual Conference on Bill 38, BC’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

After extensive consultation and input from organizations like BC FIPA, Bill 38 has turned into a real privacy bill what BC FIPA describes as an “enormous leap for privacy rights.”

However, there are still concerns, especially with regards to the drastic cuts made to the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner who will oversee PIPA.

There are also areas that could be improved such as issues like grandfathering, exceptions to consent, reduced rights of employees, limits to access and correction provisions, and the broad exception for the loosely defined “investigative purposes”.

On the whole, BC FIPA believes the legislation to be a very good one. Hopefully, the government will use this constructive criticism to make the bill even better.


Read the full text of the speech (pdf)
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BC FIPA’s comments on Bill 38, the Personal Information Protection Act, submitted to the Minister of Management Services – 15 May 2003

Bill 38 is a very good piece of privacy legislation and a breakthrough for privacy rights at the provincial level. BC has shown strong leadership among the provinces in moving forward with a private-sector privacy bill that has real teeth. For this, great credit is due to yourself and also to Chris Norman and Sharon Plater, the officials at the Corporate Privacy and Information Access Branch who have conducted the public consultation process and the development of the legislation.

However, Bill 38 is not flawless. In our news release of May 2, 2003, BC FIPA’s president stated, “We are pleased at how far the bill progressed [during the consultation process]. We’re not saying that the act is perfect, but we give it a high “B” grade.”

FIPA has stated clearly to the government, the media and the public that we support Bill 38 because its merits greatly outweigh its flaws. In endorsing the Bill, we recognize how far the government moved to improve and strengthen it during the consultation process. Nevertheless, we must state that we are in substantial agreement with most of the points the Privacy Commissioner has raised. We urge the government to consider the substance of the Privacy Commissioner’s comments seriously, and if at all possible, make improvements to the Bill in the areas in which he has expressed concern.

Read BC FIPA’s complete comments to the Minister (doc).

Key Recommendations for Reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

BC FIPA has published a list of key recommendations for reform to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act).

FIPA calls for a number of improvements:

  • reinforcing the ‘public interest’ provision under s. 25;
  • limiting what the government can do without consent;
  • increasing the responsibility of public bodies to respond fully to requests and in a timely fashion;
  • introducing whistleblower protections;
  • improving the rules regarding retention and destruction of documents;
  • narrowing the exceptions under s. 14 and 15;
  • extending the scope of coverage of the Act to the Legislative Assembly;
  • reviewing all the statutory exceptions from the Act; and,
  • revisiting the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Read the full recommendations (pdf).