Protection of Privacy/Freedom of Information

Privacy protection, personal information protection and access to information held by public and private institutions, governments and corporations have been of growing areas of concern across Canada in recent years. Nova Scotia is no different. As an individual, personal information about you is held in many forms by many government agencies and institutions and by many businesses.

More and more we have been reading about inappropriate and inadvertent exposure of some or all of this personal information. More and more we are concerned about who holds what information regarding each of us, who might have access to that information (legally or illegally), what right we have to access (to check or change) our own personal information and what protections are in place to limit the use of and prevent disclosure of that information. In addition, there is ever increasing concern about secrecy around public or government institution decisions and how those bodies and institutions operate and conduct their business. More and more people are asking those bodies for information about their processes or about how specific decisions are made.

Depending on the nature of the personal information held and the nature of the body or the business of the body that hold that information, a number of federal or provincial statutes might apply. Federally, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) or the Privacy Act might apply. PIPEDA governs the collection, use and distribution of personal information in any commercial activities throughout Canada, including within the province of Nova Scotia. The Privacy Act protects the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information held by a federal government institution or government department and deals with the individuals right to access to that information. Provincially the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) or the Personal Information Disclosure Prevention Act (PIDPA) or similar provisions contained within the Municipal Government Act (which pertains to villages, towns, counties or district units or committees or agencies of those municipal units) might apply. FOIPOP is a single Act that deals with both your right to obtain information from public bodies and local public bodies and your right to have personal information held by a public or local public body in the province of Nova Scotia protected from use and disclosure. PIDPA is intended to prevent your personal information from being accessed by foreign governments, foreign agencies or foreign corporations by requiring that your personal information held by a public body or local public body is not taken outside the province and is not accessed by anyone from outside the province. The provisions of the Municipal Government Act for the most part mirror the FOIPOP provisions but pertains specifically to all municipal corporations and councils, committees and agencies of those corporations.

Taylor MacLellan Cochrane lawyers practising in this complex area have expertise in advising clients in the application and interpretation of this legislation. Our privacy law lawyers and freedom of information lawyers have advised both those bodies that hold personal information and the individuals who want access to their personal information. We have also advised public bodies and corporations regarding the obligation of disclosure of personal and other information requested that is held by them. We have also participated in Review Officer proceedings in Nova Scotia and Privacy Commission proceedings (federal) regarding disputes over disclosure or non-disclosure of personal and other information.

Protection on personal information and the disclosure of appropriate information by public bodies is a complex and ever evolving area of the law. If you have questions or concerns, or if you need advice in this area Taylor MacLellan Cochrane privacy and information lawyers can assist you.


The Taylor MacLellan Cochrane Protection of Privacy Law Team can be contacted by e-mail at TMC Protection of Privacy Law or visit the Contact page for information on how to contact them by phone, fax, mail or to find out where our office is located.


Legal Services

Kentville Office / Mailing Address:
50 Cornwallis Street
Kentville, NS
B4N 2E4

Windsor Office:
189 Gerrish Street
Windsor, NS

t: 902.678.6156 Kentville
t: 902.472.6156 Windsor
f: 902.678.6010
Toll Free: 1-888-4-TMC-LAW

Jonathan Cuming,

Amanda Young