What Can the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC Each do to Help You?

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is an ombudsman not a regulator. This means that she has no power to make orders against organizations or require organizations to do anything. Instead, the Privacy Commissioner will attempt to resolve disputes through negotiation, mediation and conciliation.

If you file a complaint, the Privacy Commissioner has the power to investigate your complaint. In addition, the Privacy Commissioner can initiate his or her own investigation or review regarding how an organization handles personal information.

The Commissioner will report the findings of the investigation to you and the organization. Also, she might make recommendations, including that the organization release your personal information to you or correct any inaccuracies, or that they change their personal information handling practices. But the Privacy Commissioner cannot order an organization to do anything. On rare occasions, if the organization doesn’t follow his or her recommendations, the Privacy Commissioner may take the organization to Federal Court.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC Can Investigate and Make Orders

Unlike the federal Commissioner, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC does have order-making powers. He has all the same powers as the federal Commissioner to investigate and mediate a complaint and to initiate his own complaints and audit, plus the power to hold an inquiry and order an organization to do anything necessary to comply with PIPA.

The organization must comply with an order of the Commissioner within 30 days unless within that time, a party to the case goes to court to challenge the Commissioner’s order. Then the Commissioner’s order is “stayed” (put on hold) until the court makes an order.