Nov 112018

(NOTE:  List of RELATED postings at bottom)

News Release

Senate committee to probe Statistics Canada’s request for Canadians’ banking data

November 6, 2018

Ottawa – Following confirmation that Statistics Canada intends to compel major financial institutions to provide detailed customer banking information, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce announced Monday that it will hold at least one hearing to hear views on whether such information should be required by Statistics Canada.

A recent Global News report revealed that Statistics Canada is seeking full details of every banking transaction made by 500,000 Canadians over a designated period, without their consent. Statistics Canada told Global that responses to its surveys are low; the agency said the data will be used to track household spending and consumer trends, and that the data collected will be made anonymous. Former Chief Statistician Wayne Smith told media he believes the agency may have overreached.

The committee intends to invite the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, Navdeep Bains, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, Statistics Canada Chief Statistician Anil Arora, and representatives from the Canadian Bankers Association, among others, to answer the committee’s questions.

The revelation of Statistics Canada’s request comes as the committee completed its cyber security study, cyber.assault: it should keep you up at night. The report delves into issues pertaining to the protection of personal information. It also made recommendations to give greater powers to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to ensure that businesses comply with relevant privacy legislation, and that federal departments and agencies be required to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner.

The committee’s first hearing on this matter is expected to take place on November 8, 2018.

Quick Facts

  • According to the Global News story, Statistics Canada is asking for banks to provide 500,000 Canadians’ financial transaction data, with a new sample of Canadians to be chosen every year.
  • In that story, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada revealed it had already been in contact with Statistics Canada after businesses expressed concerns over its request for customer data. In a statement released on October 31, Statistics Canada said it has invited the Privacy Commissioner to provide “additional suggestions” to protect Canadians’ personal information.
  • Section 13 of the Statistics Act says the person in charge of records “in any department … corporation, business or organization” must provide access to that information to a person authorized by the Chief Statistician.


“It makes me uncomfortable to think that banks may be forced to turn over every single financial transaction a person makes. While I don’t question the good intentions of the dedicated professionals at Statistics Canada, I would like to have more than just assurances that the intimate, personal details of Canadians’ lives will be protected.”

– Senator Doug Black, QC, Chair of the committee.

“Our latest report on cyber security shows just how vulnerable we can be to data theft. I want to know more about the rationale for Statistics Canada’s request and what security measures will be put in place to protect Canadians’ data and privacy.”

– Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Deputy Chair of the committee.

Associated Links


For more information, please contact:

Sonia Noreau
Public Relations Officer
Communications Directorate
Senate of Canada
613-614-1180 |



2018-11-16   Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation, Bruce Schneier. from “The End of Trust”.

In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality. I talk about how it increases personal freedom and individual autonomy, and how the lack of it makes us all less secure. But this is probably the most important argument as to why society as a whole must protect privacy: it allows society to progress.

We know that surveillance has a chilling effect on freedom. People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.

2018-11-16  the BLIND SPOT in Privacy Commissioner’s investigation of StatsCan (getting personal data from the private sector)

2018-11-13   Canadians strongly oppose Statscan’s plan to obtain the banking records of 500,000 households: poll. Globe & Mail.

2018-11-13  Blind men describing elephant: Reply to “I wish I could persuade you that everyone gains from what is being proposed” by StatsCan (collection of data from Banks)

2018-11-12    My reply to “StatsCan plan to scoop customer spending data from banks”

2018-11-11  The law that lets Europeans take back their data from big tech companies, CBS 60 Minutes.

2018-11-08  Senator ‘repelled’ by StatsCan plan to scoop customer spending data from banks, IT World Canada

2018-11-06   News Release from Senate of Canada: Senate committee to probe Statistics Canada’s request for Canadians’ banking data

2016-08-23  MK Ultra: CIA mind control program in Canada (1980) – The Fifth Estate

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