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4

COMPLAINTS TO THE OFFICE OF

THE PRIVACY COMMISSIONER

OF CANADA

An individual may complain to the

organization in question or to the Office of

the Privacy Commissioner of Canada about

any alleged breaches of the law.

The Commissioner may also initiate a

complaint, if there are reasonable grounds.

Whenever possible, the Office of the Privacy

Commissioner of Canada seeks to resolve

disputes through investigation, persuasion,

mediation and conciliation. Ideally this

approach to resolving disputes can be less

intimidating to complainants and less costly

to business than recourse to the courts.

In some cases, where a complaint involves

a concern that could potentially be resolved

quickly, the complaint is referred to an early

resolution officer.

The early resolution officer works with

both the complainant and the respondent

organization to resolve a complaint. In some

cases, an issue that would have taken months

to resolve through the official complaint

investigation process can be concluded in a

matter of days.

If a resolution cannot be found, the

complaint is then investigated and ultimately

a report of findings is issued by the Office of

the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The Commissioner makes recommendations,

not orders. However there is provision

in PIPEDA that allows complainants or

the Privacy Commissioner to apply to the

Federal Court for a hearing in certain cases.

The Court may order an organization to

change its practices and/or award damages

to a complainant, including damages for any

humiliation suffered.

The Commissioner may make public any

information that comes to his knowledge in

the performance or exercise of his duties or

powers under the Act if considered it in the

public interest to do so.

AUDITS

The Commissioner may, with reasonable

grounds, audit the personal information

management practices of an organization.

OFFENCES

Under PIPEDA, it is an offence to:

destroy personal information that an

individual has requested;

retaliate against an employee who has

complained to the Commissioner or

who refuses to contravene Sections 5 to

10 of the Act; or

obstruct a complaint investigation or an

audit by the Commissioner or his or her

delegate.