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ALBAS: Concerning revelations regarding Stats Canada banking data demand

Dan Albas a Member of Parliament.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas
November 17, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


In my late October MP report, I referenced the serious concerns I was hearing from citizens on breaking news that Statistics Canada is demanding access to certain Canadians’ personal financial and banking information, including all transactions along with bank account balances, without citizens’ consent.

Since that time Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and the Official Opposition have been able to ask Prime Minister Trudeau about these very serious concerns in the House of Commons.

In response the Prime Minister has made it clear that he strongly supports Ottawa bureaucrats having access to your personal financial information.

The Prime Minister has also stated that Statistics Canada is actively engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on this file.

There is a problem with that statement.

The Privacy Commissioner has publicly stated that he had no idea Statistics Canada wanted data on 500,000 households, until Global News published these details.

Further, the Privacy Commissioner has also stated that Statistics Canada is falling “way short” of its stated objective of being transparent.

Why does this matter?

Recently the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology had an opportunity to question the head of Statistics Canada on this program and learned some troubling new information.

Although initial reports suggested that 500,000 Canadians would be targeted annually, the actual number is 500,000 households.

This means that everyone living within your family home would also be subject to having their personal financial information taken without their consent.

Statistics Canada also admitted that it is intentionally taking more information than it believes is necessary.

This means each year, 150,000 households more than necessary will have their financial data taken without consent.

Another troubling admission is that although Statistics Canada will “anonymize” your personal financial data, the agency also admitted that your original data, including your identity, will not be deleted and that if it is deemed necessary to reunify your data, Statistics Canada will retain the ability to do so.

When asked specifically why not delete this personal contact information, the agency did not provide an answer.

We also learned that Statistics Canada can charge fees to private corporations for providing them with neighbourhood by neighbourhood aggregated data, however Statistics Data insists that this is not “selling” your data, but is recovering fees for service.

I have had constituents share with me that they feel large companies, like Facebook and Amazon, already have a significant amount of private transactional and personal information as it is.

Currently Statistics Canada has claimed this pilot program to take your private financial data without your consent is on hold pending the investigation from the Privacy Commissioner.

This week the Globe and Mail reported that 74% of Canadians they surveyed are opposed to Statistics Canada taking their personal financial data without their consent.

Locally I am hearing even higher levels of opposition.

The Trudeau Liberal Government remains strongly supportive of your private financial information being taken without your consent and has claimed that citizens’ concerns that are raised by both the Conservative and NDP opposition is simply “fear mongering”.

My question this week: 

Are you concerned about your financial information being taken without your consent and shared with Ottawa bureaucrats or do you believe this is all a case of fear mongering?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

— Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna (specific boundaries), West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.


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