Alberta's Bill 3 will amend Personal Information Protection Act

Union that documented picket line crossers in 2006 found not guilty

Alberta opened its fall legislature this week, and with it, introduced a slew of legislation including Bill 3, which would change how unions use personal information of private sector employees.

Otherwise known as the Personal Information Protection Amendment Act, Bill 3 was brought to the table in the throne speech delivered on Nov. 17, which outlined Premier Jim Prentice’s agenda.

The proposal would amend the province’s current Personal Information Protection Act which establishes rules for the collection, use, disclosure and protection of personal information of organizations and includes protections for personal private sector employee information and regulation of non-commercial activities.

The revisions proposed in Bill 3 would authorize trade unions to collect, use and disclose personal information without consent only in the limited circumstances of a matter relating to a labour relations dispute.

“Protection of privacy is a priority for this government. We are responsible to the changing information needs of society and will be consulting further on this legislation starting next summer as part of a scheduled renewal,” explained Stephen Khan, Minister of Service Alberta.

On average, the provincial government receives an average of 600 inquiries every year under the act from employees, employers and stakeholders. According to Service Alberta, the Personal Information Protection Act provides private sector workers with more protection regarding personal information than existing federal regulation does.

Back in 2006, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union took photos and videos of people crossing the picket line during a strike at the Palace Casino at the West Edmonton Mall. Then, in 2011, the union legally challenged the validity of the Personal Information Protection Act when the privacy commissioner ruled the UFCW violated the act.

Almost one year ago to the day, on Nov. 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada determined the act contravened the union’s charter right to freedom of expression — thereby prompting Alberta to make the personal information act constitutionally compliant.

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