Language selection



March 20, 2020

Commissioner issues guidance on privacy and the COVID-19 outbreak

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has issued guidance to help organizations subject to federal privacy laws understand their privacy-related obligations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

During a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply, but they are not a barrier to appropriate information sharing.

The new document provides general guidance on applying the Privacy Act, which covers the personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s federal private-sector privacy law, in the context of the current outbreak.

All organizations must continue to operate with lawful authority and exercise good judgment. Government institutions will need to apply the principles of necessity and proportionality, whether in applying existing measures or in deciding on new actions to address the current crisis.

The OPC will continue to protect the privacy of Canadians, while adopting a flexible and contextual approach in its application of the law.

Support to organizations subject to federal privacy laws

The OPC is available to assist organizations subject to PIPEDA and the Privacy Act with questions regarding their responsibilities and authorities to collect or disclose personal information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal government institutions may contact our Government Advisory Directorate. Please send an email providing details of your enquiry to

Organizations subject to PIPEDA may contact our Office by using our online information request form.

OPC operations

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating challenges for individuals, agencies and organizations alike. 

Despite our commitment and measures put in place, we may experience some delays in responding to your requests.  As we, and all Canadians, do our part in ensuring the health and safety of citizens, we thank you for your understanding should delays occur.

Date modified: