Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.
For John Cannis, M.P. (Scarborough Centre)
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry
Senate Amendments to Bill C-6
Check Against Delivery
February 14, 2000 - Ottawa, Canada
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-6, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
Since this government was first elected, the federal government has worked hard to foster the growth of a knowledge-based economy in Canada; to prepare all Canadians for the new global economy and electronic commerce; to ensure that we are ready, willing and able to compete against the best the world has to offer.
In order for Canada to become a leader in the knowledge-based economy and in electronic commerce, consumers and businesses must be comfortable with the new technologies and with the impact that these technologies will have on their lives. Trust is crucial. Canadians want to know that their transactions are private and secure, that legal and financial networks exist to support transactions and that the information infrastructure works. A recent survey by Angus Reid found that 80 per cent of Canadians think that their personal data should be kept strictly confidential. And a 1998 EKOS survey found that four out of five Canadians want the government to work with business to set rules for privacy protection.
In addition, Canadian business has called for legislation that would define a single set of rules and establish a level playing field where the same marketplace rules apply to all. The direct marketing industry, information technology companies, telecommunications companies and banks all realize that we need a clear federal legislative privacy framework in Canada. And they recognize that flexible, but effective, legislation will help customers accept electronic ways of doing business and be less expensive for them than self-regulation alone.
It was in response to demands such as this that the government developed a strategy for electronic commerce that the Prime Minister announced in September 1998. This strategy, designed to establish Canada as a world leader in the development and use of electronic commerce, was built around seven "firsts" in the areas of:
- consumer protection
- tax neutrality
- cryptography policy
- secure electronic commerce
- digital signatures, and
I am proud to report that, with the final passage of this Bill, we will have achieved the seven firsts.
The protection of personal information has been recognized as a fundamental pillar of the global information society. For example, the European Union has a directive that came into force in 1998 that requires member states to block the flow of personal information to countries without adequate data protection. They are looking for the same elements that we included in Bill C-6.
The EU and Canada consider that legislative frameworks for the protection of privacy and personal information are a vital component of the electronic commerce strategy and are beneficial to the evolution of an information society. Internationally, the European Union and Canada have committed to supporting a standards-based approach to complement national frameworks.
Bill C-6 has already cleared this House and many hours have been devoted to its debate and passage. But I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to personally thank the Standing Committee on Industry for the excellent and exhaustive work it did to ensure that this legislation met the needs of all stakeholders, including industry, consumer groups and citizens.
The Senate unanimously supported this Bill's principles and agreed with its broad-based approach to the protection of personal information. Senator Kirby, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the committee that studied the Bill after Second Reading in the Senate, described this Bill as a masterpiece of electronic commerce that struck a very significant and delicately drawn balance between business and consumer interests.
While this Bill was being examined by Senator Kirby's Committee, Canada's health sector voiced serious concerns. This sector, uncertain as to the scope and application of this Bill, was concerned that it would not be able to get its systems and procedures ready in time for the legislation. Many within the health care sector felt that they should be excluded from the legislation entirely. In response to these concerns, the Senate has proposed amendments to the Bill that will allow the health sector one extra year, from the time of proclamation, to meet the requirements of this Bill.
It should be stressed that the health sector is not being exempted from this legislation nor should it be. Personal information is just too sensitive to be left unprotected. In no way do these amendments change the basic tenets of this legislation. The health sector is simply being given more time in which to prepare. As this Bill is scheduled to be proclaimed and come into force on January 1, 2001, the amendments will give the health care sector until January 1, 2002, to prepare for the coming into force of this legislation.
During this additional transition period, Industry Canada is ready to work with the entire health care sector, including commercial organizations, the provinces and Health Canada and other stakeholders to clarify any uncertainties on how Bill C-6 applies to them. Reasonable and practical solutions exist within the framework provided by the Bill to ensure that the personal health information that is collected, used and disclosed in the course of commercial activities is protected in law.
The Minister of Industry recently received a letter from the Information Technology Association of Canada regarding this legislation. I would like to read to you a few sentences from it.
"ITAC sees Bill C-6 as critically important, and we urge you to ensure that it is passed by
Parliament as soon as possible. To do otherwise would be to fly in the face of repeated public
promises, and the widespread support of industry and consumer groups."
"In our view, it is time for industry to move forward to the implementation stage. If the health sector feels it needs an additional year to get ready, we will be happy to work with your government in any way that is helpful. Now is the time for Canada to regain its lead in resolving privacy issues; now is not the time to prolong the debate where there is so much support."
I agree with ITAC and with so many other stakeholders who completely support this Bill.
Bill C-6 is too important to the future of Canadians to delay. For that reason, the government has proposed a motion to concur with the amendments made by the Senate so that this Bill may be passed. So that we can get on with it!
- Date modified: