March 18, 2015

Beware: Laws on Sharing Citizens & Immigrants’ Personal Information Raises Many Questions That Have Not Been Answered!!

Posted by Mario Bellissimo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

New laws that would enhance information sharing between immigration and border enforcement officials, Employment Canada, Revenue Canada, the RCMP and provinces have finally begun to receive some attention but many critical questions remain unanswered.  I will look at legislative two examples in this blog that should have many of us asking important questions. In particular, how will information be used, with what entities and for what purposes?

Express Entry and Ontario’s Immigration Act Allow for Private Info to be Shared

Key provisions that amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act effective January 1st, 2015 regarding Express Entry (EE) provided jurisdiction to undefined information sharing. Specifically section 10.4 allows disclosure of private information to undefined “entities”.

Similarly, the proposed Ontario Immigration Act, 2014 currently at second reading allows the Minister to disclose information to the Federal and any provincial/territorial governments respectively, as well as to any other prescribed entity about employers that appear in a purported employer registry (s.5(6)).  The same would hold true for recruiters (s.6(6)).  At section 20 a listing of the potential wide spread use of personal information collected through  permanent and temporary resident provincial immigration applications including with law enforcement agencies is detailed.

Employers, Applicants and Government Agency in Info Sharing Relationship

The federal and proposed provincial system brings prospective employers, applicants and CIC/Ontario respectively into an “information sharing relationship” prior to the filing or processing of any application, so applicants and employers alike must understand how private information will be used and with what other agencies.  Information sharing may well trigger enforcement action, compliance reviews or tax audits as just a few examples.

Informed Participation is the Key: New Zealand’s System Is an Example

In New Zealand’s Expression of Interest (EOI) System, a program that Canada’s EE model was in past based upon, provides an important clarification regarding the information collected in the application form:

The information about you and your family in this form is being collected to determine whether we will invite you to apply for residence in New Zealand and may also be used to contact you for research or marketing purposes or to advise you on immigration matters. This information may also be used to determine your entitlement to board a flight to come to or return to New Zealand. Your personal information will not be shared with airline check in agents, however a boarding message will be returned to the airline check in agent based on information you have supplied on this form.

The main recipient of the information is Immigration New Zealand (INZ), a service of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, but it may also be shared with other Government agencies that are entitled to this information under applicable legislation. In particular, the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income) may be given information about your personal resources. The collection of the information is authorised by the Immigration Act 2009 and the Immigration Regulations made under that Act. The supply of the information is voluntary, but if you do not supply the mandatory information required by the Expression of Interest form, then your Expression of Interest cannot be accepted.

So there you have it from personal information being placed on a marketing list to ending up on a no fly list and everything in between! At least end users of the New Zealand system know, Canadians should ask for nothing less so all users are informed participants to any immigration or related process.

For more information on Express Entry, please click here.