On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada found Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to be invalid and gave Alberta’s Legislature 12 months to make it constitutional.1

To date, no amendments to PIPA have been tabled by the Alberta government and the next session of the Alberta Legislature has been delayed until November 17, 2014.

On September 22, 2014, Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner wrote an open letter to Alberta’s Premier, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and the Minister of Service Alberta expressing concern over PIPA’s inevitable lapse as result of the delayed start to the session of the Alberta Legislature:

If PIPA is allowed to lapse, Alberta’s citizens and businesses will lose the unique benefits afforded by the legislation, including: mandatory breach reporting and notification to affected individuals, local enforcement without court involvement, and protection for the access and privacy rights of employee of provincially-regulated private sector businesses.

As the oversight body for PIPA, my office is receiving inquiries from the public and stakeholders as to the status of the legislation. In addition, there are 280 PIPA cases currently open in the office – including breach reports from organizations, complaint investigations, and quasi-judicial inquiries – which will potentially be  affected in the event the legislation lapses.2

In response, Alberta’s new Premier, Jim Prentice, declared he would be seeking an extension from the Supreme Court with respect to the amendment deadline. A motion extending the suspension of the declaration of invalidity was filed in the Supreme Court by the Attorney General of Alberta on October 1, 2014.

As it stands, PIPA is set to lapse on November 15, 2014 with no game plan for privacy breaches, complaints or access requests arising during any gap between PIPA’s lapse and re-enactment.

Our advice for provincially regulated employers operating in Alberta is to continue to comply with PIPA’s obligations with respect to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information as well as any personal information access requests. Failure to do so because of a lapse in the legislation is likely to end up in confusion and privacy complaints following PIPA’s inevitable restoration. We also recommend that employers keep their eye on the upcoming changes to PIPA. Any news on that front will be communicated through this newsletter.