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For federal institutions

The Federal Government needs information about citizens to deliver effective programs and services, and to shape sound public policies. However, individuals also need to be confident that their personal information will be protected and handled appropriately.

The Privacy Act governs the personal information handling practices of the federal institutions. It limits the collection, use, sharing and disclosure of individuals’ personal information. It also gives individuals the right to access and request correction of personal information about themselves held by the federal government.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) is responsible for preparing policy instruments concerning the operation of the Privacy Act and its regulations. This includes issuing directives and guidelines related to the Privacy Act.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) oversees compliance with the Privacy Act and aims to help federal institutions improve their personal information handling practices.

From this page, you can find a variety of information and resources designed to help federal institutions protect privacy.

Privacy Act

Legislation, processes, guidance, investigations

Privacy Act compliance help

PIAs, access to information, disclosures, public safety

Breach reporting

Guidelines, reporting forms

Privacy impact assessments

Process, expectations, tips

Police and public safety

Video surveillance, mega events, body-worn cameras

Privacy Commissioner Alerts

Lessons learned, best practices and other important privacy news, trends and information

Outsourcing for government departments

Guidance, relevant investigations

Privacy Act investigation process

Process, obligations, timing

Public interest disclosures

Disclosures without consent, public interest, Section 8(2)(m), notify OPC

See all topics

Frequently asked questions

This list highlights advice and information related to privacy issues that employees of federal institutions frequently ask about when they contact us.

How can an institution report a privacy breach to the OPC?

Use our breach reporting form for federal institutions.

Can an institution release personal information without a person’s consent?

The Privacy Act sets out circumstances in which government institutions may disclose personal information in the public interest without consent. Go to our page on public interest disclosures.

What does the OPC expect from institutions making representations in relation to a complaint?

See the explanation of the government institution’s role in: What to expect during a complaint investigation under the Privacy Act

What does the OPC expect in a PIA?

See our Guide for Submitting Privacy Impact Assessments to the OPC.

How does the OPC interpret and apply the Privacy Act?

We publish summaries and reports from our investigations into federal institutions. These offer concrete examples of how the OPC enforces the Privacy Act.

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