‘Crisis of trust’ over outdated privacy law threatens democracy and trade: Privacy Commissioner
Facebook’s use of Canadians personal data broke federal privacy law but Statistics Canada’s secret deal with TransUnion for access to personal banking information of 500,000 customers did not, according to Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, who noted the stats bureau’s conduct raised “significant concerns”.
Therrien’s 2019 annual report concludes outdated rules permitted StatCan’s surreptitious data-sharing deal – since halted according to Therrien – Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, and for Equifax’s massive data breach to go unpunished; all of which have compromised the privacy of millions of Canadians.
The Canadian population grew faster than any year where there is modern demographics data.
According to Statistics Canada, immigrants and non-permanent residents increased the nation’s population by roughly 0.6% in the third quarter.
The 0.6% increase works out to 208,234 new potential Canadians arriving between July and September.
This magnitude of increase has never been seen by the agency in a single quarter going as far back as 1971, the final date Statics Canada’s current demographic system can go back to.
The increases were also not equal between provinces with British Columbia seeing the fastest population growth, while Newfoundland’s was the lowest.
Statistics Canada appears to be on shaky grounds when it comes to how it handles your privacy and data.
According to a new report by the federal privacy watchdog, the national statistics agency could not justify its secret collection of Canadians’ financial transactions. While the organization could not provide a valid justification, the watchdog found that StatsCan legally was allowed to take unneeded private data from Canadians without their knowledge.
Global News first reported in late 2018 on the StatCan program to collect “detailed financial transaction information of 500,000 Canadians from banks without their consent or knowledge.”
The news agency also found that StatsCan had gone as far back as 15 years of credit rating information.
According to Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, during the investigation officials were unable to demonstrate why their objectives required the collection of highly sensitive information from millions of Canadians.
According to a report by the Canadian Press, the statistics agency has agreed to not carry out mass data collection, and instead follow the commissioner’s recommendations.
As Mona Fortier struggled last week to define her new role as Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and what exactly she would be presiding over, Canadian business balance sheets are in for 2019’s third quarter, and apart from the banking sector they are dreary.
According to Statistics Canada, Corporate operating profits edged up July through August on the backs of the financial services’ $729 million profit increase (+2.2%), offsetting losses of $341 million in the goods and services sector.
Overall, Canadian corporations’ operating profits rang in at $108.6 billion or 0.4 percent more than 2019’s second quarter of $107.1 billion.
Petroleum and coal were the biggest losers by percentage, down 17 percent or $418 million due to lower prices and the summer season while manfacturing took a collective $896 million hit to bottom lines, “declining in 10 of 13 manufacturing industries.”
The pulp, paper and lumber industries saw operating profits drop for a fifth consecutive quarter; down to just $255 million from $605 million in the second quarter (April, May, June).
Business professor Ian Lee who teaches at Carleton’s Sprott School of Business, says capital flight offshore, or south of the 49th to catch the economic wave of President Donald Trump’s deregulation and tax cuts along with ongoing trade disputes with China are likely factors.
“Jack Mintz has been talking about capital flight and this is not new. We’re experiencing net outflows of investment in Canada going on several years now,” said Lee. “And the reason it’s so important is that’s a harbinger of future profits.”
Since 2012, Mintz–senior fellow at Calgary University’s School of Public Policy–has been tracking capital flight, or the difference between foreign investments (FDIs) coming into Canada, and Canadian dollars being invested offshore. With the exception of 2013, more investment money flows out of Canada than in, a $20 billion differential in 2018.
“So that could contribute to a decline in profits because you’re not reinvesting your capital base, modernizing it.
StatCan noted that during Q3 2019, declines in machinery and equipment supplies lead the wholesale and retail trade operating drops as Canadian firms purchased fewer farm, construction, mining and forestry machines and other industrial equipment.
Lee said huge corporate moves like that of iconic Canadian petroleum company EnCana, who announced last month it was relocating its Calgary HQ Denver and rebranding itself, are buoyed largely by Trump’s fiscal policies.
“I have to say this carefully because it sounds like I’m supporting Trump and I’m not. But if we separate out Trump the man, from Trump’s policies. his policies have had a significant effect in the U.S,” said Lee.
“I mean he’s cut back corporate taxes, of course he’s produced huge deficits, but it has been a great time to be a corporate company in America right now. Happy days are here again, it’s make money time.”