House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Canada Labour CodeRoutine Proceedings

November 24th, 2020 / 10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act.

Mr. Speaker, today, I have the honour to introduce a bill to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act so that federally regulated businesses in Quebec respect the Charter of the French Language and implement measures to promote the use of French as the main language at work.

This is a matter of respect for one of Canada's founding peoples and a way to promote one of the things that makes Quebec unique. No one can deny that what makes Paris unique is the fact that people are welcomed there and able to work there in French. It only makes sense that such should also be the case in Quebec, the last great bastion of the French language in North America. We should be proud of this language and do everything possible to positively promote it every day.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be presenting three petitions in the House today.

The first petition deals with the government's bill, Bill C-7, which is currently before the justice committee. The petitioners are calling for amendments to the legislation that would leave in place reasonable safeguards. Those amendments have been proposed, but the government has continually rejected these very reasonable amendments.

Amendments that the petition specifically references are for the 10-day reflection period. The petitioners want that left in place. They recognize that already the 10-day reflection period can be waived with the consent of the doctors involved.

The petitioners highlight their concerns with respect to Bill C-7 and the need for amendments to protect vulnerable people, which is what the committee has been hearing from experts and disability advocates.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition deals with the human rights situation of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China. It particularly calls for the government to go from words to actions.

Recognizing that words and statements are not enough, the petitioners call on the government to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) and sanction those who are responsible for heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is in support of Bill S-204, currently before the Senate. This petition would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ that has been harvested or trafficked without the consent of the person involved.

I commend these three petitions to the consideration of the House.

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise on behalf of Canadians today who are petitioning the government in regard to Bill C-7, which is currently before the justice committee.

The petitioners are concerned about the safeguards that would be removed from that legislation, including the mandatory 10-day reflection period and the number of witnesses required for it to be carried out. The removal of the second requirement of independent witnesses would reduce the oversight of the procedure, leaving vulnerable persons at risk.

Therefore, the petitioners are asking the House of Commons to immediately discontinue the removal of safeguards for people requesting euthanasia and put additional measures in the bill, which is being proposed and amended at the justice committee.

HandgunsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions this morning.

The first petition calls upon the House of Commons to stop plans to implement a ban on handguns in Canada and instead focus on increasing punishment for violent gun criminals and urban gangs.

Veterans AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon the House of Commons to amend the new veterans charter, the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act and implement changes that would ensure injured veterans receive benefits equivalent to or greater than those granted prior to 2006.

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand here on behalf of many Canadians who are very concerned with Bill C-7 and the safeguards that would be removed in the legislation. It is very important for the government to understand that the concerns, such as a 10-day waiting period as well as the number of witnesses who need to be there to designate this as medical assistance in dying, are really important for all Canadians. The petitioners say that we should ensure we do our best to save those who are vulnerable and disabled and ensure that they understand their lives matter too.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.

The first petitions is on the systematic persecution of Uighur Muslims in China. These Canadians call upon the Government of Canada to formally recognize that Uighurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide and use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) and sanction those who are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition that I table today on behalf of more Canadians is on sex-selective abortion. The petitioners, the close 300 who have signed this petition, call upon Canada to pass the Criminal Code prohibition against sex-selective abortion.

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition in which a number of people throughout the country are profoundly concerned about some of the safeguards that are being removed in the current iteration of the legislation on medical assistance in dying, especially the disability community.

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today.

The first petition focuses on Bill C-7. The petitioners are urging the House of Commons to maintain the safeguards to protect people who request euthanasia. They call on the House of Commons and the Government of Canada to maintain the 10-day reflection period as well as the second independent witness.

Humans RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition focuses on the persecution of Uighurs by the Communist Party in China.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to recognize that Uighurs in China have been and are subject to genocide. They call on the Government of Canada to use the Magnitsky act to sanction those who are responsible for these crimes.

Humans RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would remind hon. members presenting petitions in person today to bring their petitions to the table.

Presenting petitions, the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Medical Assistance in DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand here today on behalf of Canadians who are very concerned about legislation that is currently before the justice committee, Bill C-7, which has to do with medical assistance in dying.

The legislation would unnecessarily expand the definition. It would take away the need for a 10-day reflection period and would also make it so that only one witness would need to be present when an individual requests euthanasia. This is of concern to a growing population in Canada, particularly those who live with a disability, because it puts them at risk and makes them vulnerable.

In this place, we have a responsibility to stand on behalf of the vulnerable. It is the government's primary responsibility to look after the safety and security of its citizens. Therefore, I call upon the government, along with those signed this petition, to do that.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

moved that Bill C-11, An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to discuss Bill C-11, the digital charter implementation act, 2020.

As members know, data and digital transformation is completely changing the way we access information, buy goods and services, connect with each other and live in our communities and cities. This digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic, and we are seeing more Canadians moving their activities online. Canadians are using more digital services and sharing more data online than ever before. They want to know that their personal information will be safe and that they are protected.

Recently, the Privacy Commissioner surveyed Canadians and found that the vast majority of Canadians, 92% of them, are concerned about the protection of their privacy, so this is an important issue to many Canadians. That is one of the reasons why last year I launched the digital charter, a set of 10 principles that lay down the foundation that will allow us to build an innovative, digital economy that is inclusive, people-centric and built on trust.

The principles of Canada's digital charter give Canadians more control over their data while helping Canadian companies innovate, grow and create quality jobs for middle-class Canadians across the country.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind members that the principles of the digital charter were very clear, and they focused on control and consent. Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing and who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and will know that their privacy is protected. This is one of the key principles we laid out in the digital charter.

Transparency, portability and interoperability will enable Canadians to easily manage access to their personal data and to transfer it without undue burden.

Data and digital for good is another principle that was laid out in the digital charter. The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people at home and around the world. How can we harness data to solve problems?

Another key element was strong enforcement and real accountability. There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the law and regulations that support these principles so that Canadians can rest assured that their privacy will be protected.

As members will see, the principles of the digital charter are firmly embedded in the legislation before us today. On top of this foundation sits three pillars: consumer control, responsible innovation and a strong enforcement and oversight mechanism.

Let me begin with outlining how Bill C-11 would give Canadians more control and greater transparency in the manner in which companies handle their information. It would do this by introducing important rules for consent, the right to delete information, data mobility and algorithmic transparency.

With regard to consent, Bill C-11 would enhance consumer control by requiring organizations to get meaningful consent from Canadians. This means individuals would get specific information in plain, simple language, not the 30-page legal document that no one reads. This, in turn, would allow individuals to make meaningful choices about the use of their personal information.

To make consent more meaningful and move away from lengthy agreements that, as I said, no one reads, we are introducing a new exception to consent for the collection and use of information for standard business activities that would be reasonably anticipated by individuals.

Here is an example in plain language. When a customer buys something from a company and gives that company their address, the company can give that address to a delivery company so the customer can get the product they paid for.

Under the law, that company would need to be transparent about how it uses personal information so that consumers are made aware of this and that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner can review these practices.

The second element I want to talk about is the right to delete information. Bill C-11 would allow Canadians to withdraw their consent and demand that data be deleted. When individuals no longer want to do business with an organization, that organization must stop using their information and must delete it permanently if it is asked by individuals. This would, for example, allow a Canadian to demand that a social media site delete their profile. It is very simple, but very powerful.

The next area the bill highlights is data mobility. To improve their control further, individuals would also have the right to direct and transfer their data and information from one organization or entity to another organization or entity in a very secure manner. Bill C-11 would do this by enabling regulations that establish frameworks for secure transfer and interoperability. This approach would support innovation in areas like open banking, where a common technical approach could allow Canadians to take advantage of the consumer-directed financial marketplace in a more secure way.

Another area the bill touches on, which was highlighted through extensive consultations, is algorithmic transparency. In the area of consumer control, Bill C-11 would improve transparency around the use of automated decision-making systems, such as algorithms and AI technologies, which are becoming more pervasive in the digital economy.

Under Bill C-11, organizations must be transparent that they are using automated systems to make significant decisions or predictions about someone. It would also give individuals the right to an explanation of a prediction or decision made by these systems: How is the data collected and how is the data used?

This is a brief summary of what is found in the first pillar of this legislation under more consumer control.

The second pillar of Bill C-11 is enabling responsible innovation.

The digital economy creates significant opportunities for Canadian businesses. Digital activity accounts for 4.8% of Canada's GDP, and when it comes to research and development in this country, no other private sector industry outperforms Canada's information and communications technology sector.

Investment and data has climbed as high as $40 billion. Across the economy, Canadian companies' data is worth as much as all other intangible assets, such as software, research and development, and mineral exploration rights combined. Therefore, we can see the potential of data not only today, but going forward.

Globally, we are seeing unprecedented growth in the technology sector, growth that is only going to pick up as artificial intelligence continues to grow and have a more meaningful impact in our lives. According to some estimates, AI is going to contribute an additional $13.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

The government also understands the importance of giving companies clear rules that enable them to innovate while still protecting Canadians' privacy.

Trust is the cornerstone of economic growth and innovation. When Canadians are assured that their data and privacy are safe and protected, it creates space for the kind of innovation that benefits everyone.

Our government believes that greater trust and certainty in the digital marketplace will empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to create news jobs and opportunities, expand their operations and better access the global marketplace.

It is also important to note that the new legislation would help small businesses prosper as well by ensuring that rules for data and privacy are fair, clear, enforced and flexible enough to meet the needs of smaller organizations.

One area that does that is the codes of practice and certification systems. To enable responsible innovation, Bill C-11 would create a framework to recognize the use of codes of practice and certification systems. This would help organizations both comply with the law and demonstrate their compliance, which, in turn, would support innovation and provide an important balance to a strengthened enforcement regime.

Organizations would be able to apply to the Privacy Commissioner to approve a code of practice outlining how the act's general requirements apply in a particular sector or activity. This would give businesses some certainty that if they are following the code they are in compliance.

I also want to highlight de-identified information. Bill C-11 would also clarify how organizations are to handle de-identified personal information. This would enable an important mechanism for both privacy protection and innovative uses of data, which would benefit many small businesses.

Lastly is data for good. In this area, it is important to note that under the second pillar of enabling responsible innovation, Bill C-11 would recognize an exception to consent for socially beneficial purposes in order to clearly allow organizations to support innovative data initiatives such as data trust, which is pursued by a range of public institutions, including hospitals, universities and libraries. There is so much potential with data trust because it can enable us to unlock some of the opportunities that exist to solve some problems across our society.

The next element I want to talk about is strong enforcement. Perhaps more importantly, the proposal would significantly strengthen the enforcement and oversight regime. This is critical.

With this proposal, we will have some of the toughest financial penalties in the world for violating our laws.

Currently, the Privacy Commissioner has little ability to enforce his recommendations on organizations that are non-compliant, other than seeking a hearing by the federal court. Under Bill C-11 this would change. The legislation would introduce a strengthened privacy regime that would be overseen by a more powerful Privacy Commissioner, with appropriate checks and balances in place.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner would have broad order-making power, including the power to force an organization to stop collecting or using information and delete it. If the Office of the Privacy Commissioner found out that data was collected without appropriate consent, he would have the ability to do this.

As well, the Privacy Commissioner would make sure there is strong and meaningful consequences for organizations that do not comply with the law. The Privacy Commissioner would have the power to recommend administrative monetary penalties of up to $10 million, or 3% of global revenues, whichever is higher. The range of serious criminal offences would also be expanded, with a new maximum fine of up to $25 million, or 5% of global revenues, whichever is higher.

The legislation would introduce the new personal information and data protection tribunal, which would review appeals of the commissioner's orders and levy penalties.

This new administrative tribunal will help ensure procedural fairness in how the commissioner applies the new and enhanced enforcement powers. It will provide individuals and organizations with easier access to justice through a less formal mechanism for appealing decisions.

This enforcement regime would recognize that early compliance with the act remains critical and that is the key part. Early compliance will remain critical for the protection of Canadian privacy. We need to build on the commissioner's existing abilities to secure early resolution through compliance agreements. We want to make sure that Canadian companies actually comply with the legislation.

This new regime would see stronger collaboration between the Privacy Commissioner, stakeholders and implicated institutions, including federal organizations. When the commissioner is developing that guidance, it is important to have that level of collaboration. This will ensure there is a strong alignment between the law and how it is explained and enforced, and help avoid confusion for those trying to follow it. Again, this will provide further clarity.

To summarize, the third pillar of Bill C-11, strong enforcement and oversight, would introduce an escalating model that provides incentives for organizations to comply early. The focus is on compliance. Strong penalties will exist if they do not follow through. There will be a new tribunal to ensure the process will be fair, transparent and accessible for businesses of all sizes.

The three pillars of Bill C-11 work together to provide what Canadians need to engage in the digital economy: strong and enforceable protections for personal information, along with clear rules for businesses to follow as they innovate and deliver new products and services.

It is also important to note that the legislation would help protect the privacy of Canadians, while strengthening the ability of Canadian businesses to compete globally. This positions Canada to succeed internationally.

When PIPEDA was introduced in 2000, it was considered a global leader among data protection laws. In 2002, the European Commission found that PIPEDA provided adequate protection relative to EU law. The finding of adequacy gave us an international edge by allowing us to have free flow of data between Canadian and EU companies.

More recently in 2018, the EU brought into force its GDPR, the general data protection regulation. Since then, the EU has been reviewing Canada's adequacy against the GDPR. They have made it clear that we must reform our privacy regimes in order to maintain our advantage when it comes to this status. I believe the legislation would achieve GDPR adequacy while maintaining the made in Canada approach.

Lastly, I want to conclude by mentioning stakeholder reactions. This approach reflects years of public study, consultations and collaboration. It builds upon the fundamental work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, as well as important deliberations in the other place.

I can tell members the legislation has gained support from a wide range of stakeholders. Goldy Hyder, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, spoke positively about this. Michael Geist, who is well recognized in this area of expertise, said this is “Canada's Biggest Privacy Overhaul in Decades”. OpenMedia calls Bill C-11 “a big win for privacy in Canada.”

We know that Canadians will continue to use digital services that require the use of their personal data, and we know there is no turning back.

I will conclude with this last remark.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase our reliance on the digital economy, Bill C-11 will help Canadians embrace this new world, knowing that their personal information is protected and safe.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Madam Speaker, I saw from the stakeholders that big business certainly likes the bill, but I want to talk about small businesses, like insurance companies, for example. The minister talked about data portability and open banking. Currently, in Canada the insurance arms of banking companies are not allowed to share that information with their mother company, the bank. This creates a competitive playing field for small and medium-sized insurance companies.

I wonder if he can address the concerns of small and medium-sized insurance companies that their business will be severely disadvantaged by the legislation and tell us what efforts the government will take to help those companies.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Malton, ON

Madam Speaker, as I highlighted in my remarks, the legislation is good for small businesses. It would provide them the ability to work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to create codes of conduct to enable them to be compliant with the act. The tribunal process is also less expensive and onerous for small businesses, particularly when we compare it with the lengthy processes they may have had to pursue in the past in the courts.

More importantly, I think the legislation gives control to Canadians, particularly in the area of portability, as the member opposite highlighted, by enabling small businesses to be able to take advantage of the fact that Canadians can now move their personal data from one organization to another. That creates more competition and more choice, which will have a positive impact on small businesses.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the hon. minister.

Quebec is currently giving this careful consideration. Personal information belongs to individuals and is a provincial responsibility under the Constitution. The provinces are responsible for property and civil law. Quebec is in the process of modernizing its own legislation.

Knowing that, how do you see the two pieces of legislation eventually harmonizing?

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind the hon. member that he is to address his questions and comments to the Chair and not directly to the minister.

The hon. minister.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Malton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. He is right. Privacy is essential for all Canadians.

That is why we introduced this legislation, to make sure it is adequate with respect to the GDPR, but will also respect provincial legislation. This law demonstrates national leadership in an area where it is important to have clear rules to protect Canadians, their privacy and their data, and it will respect provincial jurisdiction.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for introducing the bill and for recognizing the work of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which brought forward a number of these recommendations. It is essential that we move on this legislation.

I have some concerns when I look at the legislation. One of the key concerns I have is that the government has opted to ignore the need to bring political parties and third-party political operators under some form of privacy regime. I am sorry, but a pinkie swear from a party staffer that there is a privacy code does not cut it, not after what we have seen with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the big data wars going on with political campaigns in the United States. We need to have political parties under some kind of regime.

Is the government willing to put this under a regime if we bring forward amendments?