A day after the province released the details on Bill 25, the Children First Act, designed to allow, in part, authorities to share background information about children and their parents, the province’s privacy commissioner came out with concerns on the new bill.

On Tuesday, the provincial government brought forward the Act in the legislature – touting it as a way to support and protect children.

The legislation also includes regulations to allow police, the court system, and childcare organizations to share information that could not be shared before.

In a press release, Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton said she supports the principle of the legislation, but was concerned with its execution.

“I support the principle of promoting the ‘well-being, safety, security, education and health of children’ and I recognize that information sharing is vital to providing the programs and services that will benefit children,” Clayton said. “But I am very concerned about the privacy implications.”

Clayton said the bill lessens a person’s ability to control their personal information – as it makes it easier to share information without consent, some might not be aware that information about them is being shared at all, or why.

In addition, Clayton said the act allows private information to be shared with non-profit groups that aren’t regulated under privacy legislation, and the reason that information would be shared: “for the purpose of enabling or planning for the provision of services or benefits”, is too broad.

Clayton’s concerns echo what NDP MLA Rachel Notley said about the legislation Tuesday, she said she thinks it goes too far.

“The act itself says any agency, including some we haven’t heard about yet, in what they decide is the best interest of the child, can share indiscriminately, information about parents,” Notley said.

The privacy commissioner also said the bill authorizes information sharing that’s partly already allowed under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, the Health Information Act (HIA) and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

Clayton called the bill a legislated solution to an education and awareness problem – and education and training would be needed, and it would make the system more complicated, as it adds another layer of legislation that officials and service providers would have to consider.

As for what to do with it, Clayton suggested amending the bill to include required criteria for privacy impact assessments, mandatory record disclosures through all mediums and requirements to report breaches to the commissioner’s office.