COMPLAINTS TO THE OFFICE OF
THE PRIVACY COMMISSIONER
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
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
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.
The Commissioner may, with reasonable
grounds, audit the personal information
management practices of an organization.
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