File a complaint under the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act sets out the rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by federal government institutions. It also gives individuals the right to see, with some limited exceptions, the information the government holds about them, and to request corrections.

If you think an organization covered by the Act is not living up to its responsibilities under the law, you have the right to file an official complaint.

Steps to take before filing a complaint

1. Check whether the organization is subject to the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act only applies to federal government institutions listed in the Privacy Act Schedule of Institutions, or if it falls within the definition of a federal Crown Corporation or a subsidiary. It applies to all of the personal information that the federal government collects, uses and discloses—be it about individuals or federal employees.

It should be noted that the Privacy Act does not apply to political parties and political representatives.

You can find more information about the application of the Privacy Act in our Overview of Privacy Legislation of Canada or on our web page about the Privacy Act.

If the Privacy Act does not apply to your situation, try our tool designed to help you determine which organization may be best suited to help you.

2. Provide the organization with an opportunity to address your concern

We would encourage you to try to resolve the concern directly with the organization before filing a complaint. You may wish to discuss the matter with the help of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Co-ordinator of the institution responsible for the personal information at issue.

A list of ATIP Co-ordinators can be found on the Treasury Board Secretariat web site.  

We have developed a resource to help individuals trying to resolve privacy matters: Tips for Raising Your Privacy Concern with a Federal Government Institution.

3. Learn about how the complaint process works

See our guide: What to expect during a complaint investigation under the Privacy Act

You may also call our Office, toll-free at 1-800-282-1376. One of our Information Officers can answer questions you may have about our complaints process.

Other information you should know before filing a complaint

  • There is no charge for filing a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and you do not need to hire special advisors to help you with the process.
  • The personal information you provide on our complaint form is protected under the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.  Please note that your name (except in extraordinary circumstances) and the details of your complaint will be shared with the organization that is the subject of the complaint.
  • The OPC is committed to ensuring that clients with disabilities have equal access to, and can benefit from, all our public-facing services. If you require accommodation for a disability to help you file a complaint, please contact our Information Centre. An Information Officer will either assist you in making your request or refer you to the appropriate person.
  • If you are filing a complaint on behalf of someone else, you will need written authorization from that person. Here is a link to the OPC Authorization form.

If you have reviewed the information above and would like to proceed with filing a complaint, please choose one of the options below.

Complaints help

The following list offers links to information that may be helpful to individuals interested in filing a privacy complaint about a federal institution.

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