The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

CBA/ABC National

CBA influence

CBA: Privacy Act should should require government to protect personal information

By CBA/ABC National October 11, 2016 11 October 2016

The Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act are two pieces of federal legislation whose time has come – to be amended.

The federal Privacy Commissioner sent the government a letter outlining 16 changes that he believes need to be made to the Privacy Act. The CBA’s Privacy and Access Law Section agrees with most of those changes – in fact it has made many of the same recommendations over the past decade or more. And it doubles down by saying the Access to Information Act – which, like the Privacy Act, has not been substantially changed in 34 years – must be amended at the same time. “Both statues have been treated as a package since they were enacted and there are compelling reasons to continue doing so,” the Section says.

In its submission, presented to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in late September, the Section notes that the review must also address the “supporting infrastructure.”

(Hear more from Gary Dickson, who appeared before the Committee for the CBA.)

“More than 30 years of experience with access and privacy laws in Canada dictate that we cannot achieve a truly robust set of information rights if we focus exclusively on the enabling statute,” the submission says. “The access and privacy infrastructure includes the role and work of the Treasury Board, the role and work of ATIP Coordinators, the Open Government initiative and a host of administrative and procedural matters that directly and indirectly affect individuals asserting their information rights under either or both statutes.”

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CBA influence

Time to act on pay equity

By CBA/ABC National October 11, 2016 11 October 2016

In February the federal government established a special committee on pay equity, and in June, as required by its mandate, that committee tabled a report on its findings, titled It’s Time to Act?

The second recommendation of that report is that the government take its time drafting pay equity legislation – a generous 18 months.

Recommendation #3 is that the new legislation “accept the overall direction of the 2004 Federal Pay Equity Task Force report and that the majority of the recommendations be adopted.”

So to recap: a 1956 federal law requiring equal pay didn’t close the gender wage gap. Neither did the 1977 law establishing a complaint-based system for equal pay for work of equal value. In 2016 a special committee suggests the government get around to drafting proactive legislation based on a report tabled 12 years ago that said it was time for women to be paid the same as men for work of equal value.

It’s time to act, indeed.

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Climate change

Reactions to Ottawa’s national carbon pricing plan

By CBA/ABC National October 7, 2016 7 October 2016

Jason Kroft, Jonathan Drance and Luke Sinclair size up the federal government’s plan to put a price on carbon:

While Trudeau’s Plan emphasized consistency between the provinces and suggested using existing regimes, such as British Columbia’s carbon tax or Ontario’s cap-and-trade, as policy anchors, the Plan doesn't yet adequately account for the fundamental differences between the two methods. The Plan also doesn't yet connect the proposed pricing floor with Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement at least not in any tangible way. For example, Alberta’s carbon pricing proposal, embraced by Trudeau’s Plan, aims to keep emissions flat until 2030, a far cry from the required 30% reduction under the Paris Agreement.

Richard Corley, Daniel Gormley and Catherine Lyons explain some of the impracticalities of transitioning to a low-carbon economy in Canada:

The pre-existing provincial carbon pricing models, together with the dim prospects for federal/provincial unanimity on carbon pricing, seems to have tied the federal government’s hands and to have made both the unilateral federal announcement and the return of all carbon revenues to the provinces and territories, necessary elements of the federal model. As a result, further federal action on climate change will have to be regulatory in nature and/or be funded from revenues other than the price on carbon. As the recipients of the carbon revenues, the provinces and territories will have the financial resources, and responsibility, to continue to take on a central role in achieving Canada’s climate change commitments. Under this decentralized model, it may also be more difficult for the federal government to implement carbon border adjustments (for example, as were contemplated by the ill-fated U.S. national (Waxman-Markey) cap and trade bill) which could become a more significant concern as the price on carbon continues to rise.

 

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CBA influence

Let the children go: The detention of immigrants is hard on the kids

By CBA/ABC National October 4, 2016 4 October 2016

Children don’t belong in detention.

That’s the message the CBA along with nearly 400 other signatories sent to the government in an open Statement Against the Immigration Detention of Children, published on Tuesday.

The statement follows on the heels of a report out of the University of Toronto International Human Rights Program that “uncovers the deficient legal underpinnings and detrimental practical implications of child immigration detention in Canada.”

An estimated 242 children were detained in Canada each year between 2010 and 2014 – children who arrived in Canada alone, or with parents who might have been detained for immigration-related reasons.

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Technology

Fintech in Canada gets a boost

By CBA/ABC National October 4, 2016 4 October 2016

 

When we interviewed Christine Duhaime about fintech and the legal industry, she pointed to the UK and Singapore as countries that have shown more flair than others in creating an environment where fintech start-ups, in the early stages, could innovate without having to worry about heavy regulatory oversight. Now the Ontario Securities Commission has announced OSC Launchpad, and plans to open the way for fintech product experimentation with the introduction of a regulatory “sandbox”. OSC invested with a mandate to “tailor regulation and oversight to their unique business models, as long as investor protections are in place.” Making the announcement was OSC chair and CEO, Maureen Jensen:

“Some of the new fintech businesses and platforms don’t fit neatly into our regulatory framework. And some of our requirements may not make any sense in the context of their business,” said Jensen. “We recognize that we have to keep pace with the changes brought on by fintech and not prevent promising business models from coming to market. Our objectives of investor protection and fair and efficient markets are unchanged, but the approach we take needs to evolve.”

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