Privacy concerns over Statistics Canada collecting bank data

As the result of a recent Global News report, Canadians have become aware that Statistics Canada is asking banks across the country for financial transaction data and personal information of 500,000 Canadians to develop a “new institutional personal information bank.” This is being done without the knowledge or consent of the individual account holders. The report revealed that the agency has already harvested social insurance numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth and detailed credit information, including balances owed, balances overdue, and more than 30 other fields or categories of data from TransUnion of Canada.
Despite my Party’s strong calls to immediately halt this intrusion into the private lives of Canadians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the decision by Statistics Canada to compel banks and financial institutions to release personal transaction data. Statistics Canada’s chief statistician, Anil Arora, says he is open to delaying the January launch of a plan to obtain the banking records in light of concerns from the public. The personal banking and financial transactions being requested without the knowledge of consent of account holders, include bill payments, cash withdrawals from ATMs, credit card payments, electronic money transfers and even account balances of Canadians across the country.

In my opinion, the government’s proposed new Personal Information Bank represents a disturbing and unprecedented intrusion into the private lives of individual Canadians. I am the first to agree that aggregating data for good policy making is a sound practice of Statistics Canada, but I have grave reservations of what this new information bank is for, how it will operate, and most importantly whom will have access to it.

It is essential that this type of data be protected. It is private. It should only be accessed by persons, other than account holders, through express permission. It appears that is not the case here. Protecting Canadians’ personal and financial data that is held by federally regulated institutions, such as banks, is the responsibility of the federal government. Our Party is pressing the government on these questions Andrew Scheer October 31 and demanding it be ceased. Its move to gather this type of data is quite disturbing.