Canadian Vital Statistics Program

Privacy Impact Assessment Summary

Introduction

Statistics Canada's Canadian Vital Statistics Program obtains from the provincial and territorial vital statistics registrars personal information on births, deaths, stillbirths and marriages that take place in Canada as well receiving from the federal Department of Justice's Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings personal information on divorces. In addition, some state registries in the United States provide to Statistics Canada personal information on births, deaths and stillbirths of Canadian residents that occur in their jurisdictions. Vital statistics data are used by Statistics Canada in the production of population estimates and projections, demographic and health trend analyses, as well as for methodological studies and survey sampling. The Canadian Vital Statistics Program is a long-standing arrangement between the federal government and provincial/territorial governments and is overseen by the Vital Statistics Council for Canada.

Objectives

A privacy impact assessment for Statistics Canada's Vital Statistics Program was conducted to determine if there were any privacy, confidentiality and security issues associated with the program, and if so, to make recommendations for their resolution or mitigation.

Description

The provincial/territorial registries provide standard registration information to Statistics Canada using a variety of media, including machine-readable format, paper, optical images and microfilm. This privacy impact assessment examined possible privacy risks related to the receipt, processing and the return of information back to provincial/territorial registries or other organizations.

While the method of transmittal of files and documents to Statistics Canada is the responsibility of the registries and the Department of Justice, the Agency encourages these organizations to follow Statistics Canada's standards for the transmittal of sensitive statistical information. This includes sending electronic data and images on encrypted or password-protected compact discs and sending any encryption keys or passwords separately. Use of bonded couriers is recommended also for the delivery of compact discs, microfilm, and paper copies of registration documents. As well, in collaboration with the vital statistics registries, Statistics Canada is currently developing enhanced standards for more secure means of transmittal of files and documents. The return of any records to the registries complies with the Agency standards for the transmittal of sensitive statistical information.

Upon receipt by Statistics Canada, all vital statistics information is provided the same level of security afforded to all information obtained under the authority of the Statistics Act. This information forms a personal information bank and is listed in the annual publication Info Source: Sources of Federal Government Information.

Conclusion

This assessment of the Canadian Vital Statistics Program did not identify any privacy risks that cannot be managed using existing safeguards.

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