Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien holds a news conference to discuss his annual report in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Statistics Canada’s request for banking data prompts privacy investigation

Statistics Canada can compel businesses to supply a wide range of data

Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says he is investigating Statistics Canada’s request for private banking information on 500,000 Canadians.

Therrien said Wednesday that numerous people have complained to his office about the agency’s effort to gather detailed information on transactions held by Canadian financial institutions, from cash-machine withdrawals to credit-card payments to account balances.

The formal investigation will include an examination of the requests Statistics Canada has made to businesses in multiple industries for data they collect on their customers and business partners, he said.

READ MORE: Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

Canada’s chief statistician, Anil Arora, said traditional methods of gathering data aren’t good enough to measure Canada’s economy and changes in society.

“More than 75 per cent of purchases are conducted online by Canadians and Statistics Canada has to have access to these data in order to provide all Canadians with the timely and quality statistics they need in areas such as housing and debt and the impacts of transitioning to a gig economy,” Arora said.

Therrien’s last report to Parliament mentioned Statistics Canada’s growing reliance on “administrative data sources,” mainly information collected by businesses about their customers. Many of those businesses have contacted the privacy commissioner to make sure that sharing it is OK, his report said.

Therrien suggested that wherever possible, Statistics Canada should tell the companies involved to strip names and identifying information from the data before sending it over.

“To ensure transparency, we recommended StatCan let the Canadian public know how and why it is increasing its collection of data from administrative and other non-traditional sources,” the report said.

Arora said the privacy commissioner was consulted as Statistics Canada planned its pilot project on financial data, but added he has asked Therrien to take a second look.

Statistics Canada can compel businesses to supply a wide range of data.

“I understand the concerns that Canadians have and want to assure them that their personal information is carefully protected and never shared publicly,” Arora said.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kitimat resident is Conservative choice for fall election

Claire Rattée is a former Kitimat councillor

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

LNG Canada sponsors driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

B.C. pot giant Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

Most Read