What is PIPEDA?

Learn about PIPEDA

PIPEDA is a Canadian law relating to data privacy. It governs how private sector organizations collect, use and disclose personal information in the course of commercial business.

Why Do We Need Privacy Protection?

Healthcare data is some of the most personal and sensitive information we possess. A breach of such data could have severe consequences, damaging a patient’s reputation, affecting their relationships, and influencing their overall well-being.

That’s why privacy protection is not just a nice-to-have; it’s an absolute must-have for anyone navigating the online world.

This is where Canada’s PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) comes into the picture. It’s a law designed to balance our right to privacy with the needs of businesses to collect, use, or disclose personal information for legitimate purposes.

The Background and History of PIPEDA

Canada’s data protection laws have seen significant evolution over time. The journey started around the turn of the 21st century when the PIPEDA Act was first introduced on April 13, 2000. 

This act marked a transformative era in data protection, introducing comprehensive privacy provisions implemented gradually from January 1, 2001, until fully extended to Canadian organizations by January 1, 2004.

Under PIPEDA, every private enterprise in Canada engaged in commercial activities and collecting personal information is held accountable to the law’s strict provisions.

Key Principles of PIPEDA

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is governed by ten foundational principles that are as follows:

1. Accountability: 

Organizations are accountable for the personal information under their control. They must designate an individual or individuals who are responsible for compliance with the principles of PIPEDA.

2. Identifying Purposes: 

Before or at the time of collection, the organization must identify the purpose for which personal information is collected. It ensures that the data will not be used for any other purpose (without consumers’ content) except for the identified one.

3. Consent: 

The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate. The consent can be implied or expressed, depending on the circumstances.

4. Limiting Collection: 

Companies should not ask for personal health information that’s not necessary to collect. The collection of personal data must be limited to that required for the purposes identified by the organization, ensuring that it’s collected by fair and lawful means.

5. Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention: 

Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the individual’s consent or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary to fulfill those purposes.

6. Accuracy: 

Personal information shall be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.

7. Safeguards: 

Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information, even during the disposal of healthcare data.

8. Openness: 

An organization shall make readily available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to managing personal information.

9. Individual Access: 

Upon request, individuals shall be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of their personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.

10. Challenging Compliance: 

Organizations must set up procedures for managing non-compliance complaints. They are expected to investigate valid complaints, take corrective actions, and communicate the outcome to the complainant, including options for further recourse if unsatisfied.

How to Comply With PIPEDA

Complying with PIPEDA may seem complex, but a systematic approach can significantly simplify the process. We recommend a PIPEDA compliance checklist to help you navigate your compliance journey.

1. Determine PIPEDA Applicability

Before everything else, understand whether PIPEDA applies to your organization. If you are engaged in commercial activities in Canada and handle personal information, then PIPEDA likely impacts your business.

2. Grasp Key PIPEDA Requirements

Familiarize yourself with the ten PIPEDA principles and how they apply to your data management practices.

3. Appoint a PIPEDA Compliance Officer

Designate an individual or a team responsible for ensuring PIPEDA compliance. This person or team will manage privacy-related matters, navigate compliance issues, and serve as a point of contact for privacy concerns.

4. Develop PIPEDA Compliance Procedures and Policies

Craft clear policies and procedures to meet PIPEDA requirements. These should outline how personal information is collected, used, disclosed, and stored, keeping privacy at the forefront of your business operations.

5. Publish a Comprehensive Privacy Policy

Maintain a publicly accessible Privacy Policy detailing your personal data procedures and policies. This transparency is critical to building consumer trust and demonstrating your commitment to PIPEDA.

6. Maintain Accurate Records of Personal Information

Keep comprehensive records of all personal information you’ve collected, along with documentation of consent, planned use, and scheduled disposal.

7. Communicate Data Handling Procedures to Individuals

Inform individuals clearly about how their information will be managed, including how they can access and correct their data. 

How to Comply With PIPEDA

Under PIPEDA, individuals or consumers have specific rights related to their personal information. If these rights are infringed upon, there are procedures to follow to ensure privacy is protected.

1. The Right to Access Personal Information

Consumers have the right to access the Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that an organization holds about them. They can request this data anytime to verify what information the organization has collected.

2. The Right to Correct or Complete Personal Information

If an individual believes an organization’s data is incorrect or incomplete, they have the right to request its correction or completion. This helps to ensure the accuracy of the data.

3. The Right to Withdraw Consent

At any time, individuals have the right to withdraw their consent to processing their PII. It is important to understand the implications of this withdrawal and how it may affect the services received.

4. The Right to Lodge a Complaint

If an individual believes their privacy rights have been violated, they have the right to lodge a complaint. If an initial complaint to the organization doesn’t resolve the issue satisfactorily, it can be escalated to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who has the authority to investigate and take further action.

PIPEDA and Data Transfers

PIPEDA’s guidelines on data transfer are comprehensive and apply to both domestic and international contexts. In essence, organizations are permitted to transfer personal data to other entities, provided they adhere to necessary security protocols and there’s a legitimate reason for the transfer.

While PIPEDA doesn’t differentiate between domestic and international transfers, sharing data across borders presents unique challenges. You must ensure that the receiving organization adheres to similar data protection standards and provide comparable security to PIPEDA.

The Federal Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s guidance document recommends including appropriate contract clauses in service provider and outsourcing agreements related to cross-border data transfers.

PIPEDA and New Technologies

Addressing the rise of advanced technologies such as AI and biometrics, policy proposals suggest that PIPEDA adopt a rights-based approach. They recommend redefining personal information and empowering the Office of the Privacy Commissioner with greater enforcement capabilities. 

They also recommend flexibility in data handling, private rights of action provisions, and clear stances on automated decision-making while offering small and medium enterprises exemptions.

As AI technologies become increasingly prevalent, individuals may have the right to obtain a meaningful explanation when their data is used for automated decision-making.

Benefits of PIPEDA Compliance

There are a number of benefits to companies who  comply with PIPEDA:

1. Reputation Building:

Compliance with PIPEDA showcases a commitment to privacy, helping businesses establish and maintain a strong reputation.

2. Trust Enhancement:

By adhering to PIPEDA standards, businesses foster trust with customers who know their data is handled responsibly.

3. Risk Mitigation:

Following PIPEDA’s guidelines reduces the risk of costly data breaches and legal consequences.

4. International Business Facilitation:

PIPEDA compliance eases the process of data transfers with foreign entities, aiding in international collaborations.

5. Long-term Sustainability:

Compliance with PIPEDA underscores a business’s commitment to responsible data practices, fostering long-term operational success.

The Future of PIPEDA and Privacy

Looking ahead, the importance of PIPEDA will only grow. As technology advances and the volume of data we generate increases, the need for robust, adaptable privacy legislation like PIPEDA will become increasingly crucial.

PIPEDA continues to inspire other countries’ legislations to enact similar privacy protections, contributing to a global culture of data privacy. It’s time to prioritize data privacy and invest in reliable PIPEDA Compliance Software


PIPEDA has played a significant role in protecting Canadians’ personal information, setting the standard for privacy legislation in many ways. If you want to grow as a digital healthcare business, the importance of maintaining robust privacy measures cannot be ignored.

At MedStack, we understand the importance of privacy and data security, especially in the healthcare sector, where data is particularly sensitive. Our secure platform is designed with PIPEDA compliance in mind, ensuring that your application respects privacy laws and safeguards patient information.

Invest in a secure future with MedStack.


Frequently Asked Questions

PIPEDA stands for The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.


Part of the reason that PIPEDA is important is that organizations covered under it must obtain consent from individuals when they collect, use, or disclose that data.

This means that information collected from clients can only be used for the purposes it was collected. If an organization wants to use that information again in a different way, they must again ask for consent.

According to PIPEDA, any personal information that is considered factual or subjective about an identifiable individual should be protected. This includes information in many different forms, such as:

  • Age
  • Name
  • Identification numbers (i.e., provincial health card number, SIN number, etc.)
  • Income
  • Ethnic heritage
  • Blood type
  • Opinions or comments
  • Social status
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Employee files
  • Previous merchant disputes
  • Credit history
  • Loan records

PIPEDA is a federal regulation for protecting personal information.

PHIPA (Personal Health Information Protection Act) is a provincial regulation for protecting personal information, specifically as it relates to clients in Ontario.

The biggest key difference between these two regulations is that PIPEDA applies to personal information in a broader spectrum, while PHIPA focuses on protections for personal health information.

Because the federal government has concluded that PHIPA and PIPEDA principle guidelines are very similar in some ways, companies that are PHIPA compliant may be exempt from certain parts of PIPEDA.

It is a requirement in Canada that all federally-related organizations remain PIPEDA compliant, or be subject to an equivalent provincial law. This could include businesses, such as:

  • Telecommunication companies
  • Banks (domestic/authorized foreign) and other financial institutions
  • Television and radio broadcasters
  • Airlines, airports, and aircrafts
  • Offshore drilling operations

It’s important to note that these applicable businesses must also offer the same protections for their employees’ personal information, as they do for their clients.

There are certain provinces in Canada that have their own privacy laws (i.e., British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec). This generally means they are exempt from PIPEDA, because they are already subject to another provincial privacy law that’s considered equivalent.


Since healthcare in Canada is provided at the provincial level, each province has their own health data privacy requirements.

  • Alberta: HIA
  • Ontario: PHIPA
  • Manitoba: PHIA
  • New Brunswick: PHIPAA
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: PHIA
  • Prince Edward Island: HIA
  • Quebec: QHR
  • Saskatchewan: HIPA
  • British Columbia: FIPPA
  • Nova Scotia: PHIA

    Due to the fact that Ontario is the most densely populated province in the country, this is the provincial regulation that we hear about most often, but similar regulations exist for other provinces across the country.

How can MedStack help with PIPEDA compliance ?

Some provinces have a requirement that health data must remain in Canada. MedStack can assist with this by ensuring the data of companies under this regulation are only housed in a Canadian data center.

Learn how our platform can help you become HIPAA-compliant

We are the only platform that brings together compliance, security assessment responses, threat protection, and audit readiness into a complete offering, ensuring your application runs and manages data in the cloud with the highest privacy and security standards in mind.

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Book a demo today and see how easy it is to get started with MedStack.

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