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Canada: OPC finds Government COVID-19 measures generally privacy compliant

On May 30, 2023, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced that it had tabled its special report on COVID-19-related investigations before the Parliament of Canada. In particular, the special report outlines the findings of several investigations and advisory initiatives that examined the Federal Government's privacy practices in relation to pandemic measures. The OPC ultimately concluded that the Federal Government's collection and use of personal information to track and control the spread of COVID-19 was generally done in compliance with privacy laws, whilst also highlighting some key observations and important lessons learned. Commissioner Philippe Dufresne nevertheless noted that the OPC's work "also underscored important deficiencies in our public sector privacy law which is long overdue for modernization."

In regard to the investigations undertaken, the OPC examined the following:

  • vaccine mandates for domestic travel;
  • vaccine mandate for travelers entering Canada;
  • investigations related to the Federal Government's vaccination attestation requirement;
  • ArriveCAN application error;
  • investigations into the collection and use of de-identified mobility data during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • investigations under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act 2000 (PIPEDA).

You can read the press release here and the special report here.