Overviews of Governing Legislation
The Office of Statistics and Information Act and its associated Regulation were officially proclaimed in June 2009 affirming the OSI’s position as the Government of Alberta’s official statistics agency.
Under the Office of Statistics and Information Act, the OSI is authorized to collect personal information directly by conducting surveys and censuses, either on its own, or jointly with another party.
However, most personal information used by the OSI will be an indirect collection from other Government of Alberta ministries and agencies as well as government departments and statistical agencies in other jurisdictions. In some cases, the OSI may disclose information to these same parties. For example, the Office of Statistics and Information Act authorizes the OSI to enter into agreements to collect and disclose information. The Act has provisions for protecting personal information and penalties for offences.
Except for a few specific instances cited in the Office of Statistics and Information Act, compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, especially Part 2 of the Act, is the primary consideration of the OSI in its privacy practices. Within Alberta, other department-specific legislation that applies to the personal information being shared may also prevail, depending on the information under consideration.
Depending on the source of the personal information being shared, the OSI’s privacy obligations will be also affected by other privacy legislation at the provincial and federal levels, including both public sector and private sector legislation. Although the OSI is not directly governed by such legislation, such legislation may affect the nature of OSI’s information exchange with organizations in the private sector and in the public sectors of Canadian jurisdictions outside Alberta.
As an office within a public body, the OSI is subject to the provisions of the FOIP Act. Personal information under the control and/or custody of OSI is subject to the protection of privacy provisions of Part 2 of the FOIP Act except in those limited specific circumstances in which the Office of Statistics and Information Act prevails over the FOIP Act.
The Office of Statistics and Information Act governs the current activities of the OSI. Health information collected, used and disclosed by a custodian (similar to the public body concept under the FOIP Act) is subject to the Health Information Act (HIA). The HIA will therefore affect the availability of information to the OSI, although the OSI is not directly bound by the HIA.
At time of writing, amendments to the HIA are before the Legislature. If those amendments change the impact of the HIA on the OSI, OSI policy and procedures will be revised accordingly.
Legislation, such as the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or the Income and Employment Supports Act, have confidentiality of information provisions that, in some cases, take precedence over the FOIP Act.
Private sector organizations in Alberta are governed by the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) or the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). OSI data collection activities could be affected by PIPA or PIPEDA if those Acts affect the ability of a survey respondent to provide information to the OSI. However, neither PIPA nor PIPEDA has any direct bearing on the activities of the OSI in other respects.
Provincial and territorial governments outside Alberta are governed by their own privacy legislation. Statistics Canada is a major data source for statistical products that the OSI creates and disseminates. The OSI will also facilitate the exchange of information with Statistics Canada and communicate the Province’s statistical needs to Statistics Canada. Access to, and the sharing of information from this Federal agency is subject to the federal Statistics Act and the federal Privacy Act. The Privacy Act governs all other Federal departments and Crown corporations. For the OSI, despite the protection of privacy requirements of other privacy legislation, its privacy obligations must at a minimum, comply with the FOIP Act.