StatsCan Halts Controversial Plan to Collect Financial Data from 500,000 Canadians

Statistics Canada has halted its plan to get banking details of half a million Canadian households as well as temporarily halted collecting credit records from TransUnion.

A new report from The Globe and Mail explains that the government agency has made the decision amidst a controversy surrounding its plan to launch the project, which would gather sensitive financial information from 500,000 Canadians. The agency is now under investigation by the federal Privacy Commissioner.

“Statistics Canada has put this project on pause, and informed TransUnion to that effect,” Statistics Canada spokesperson Peter Frayne said. “We take the privacy and confidentiality of Canadians’ information very seriously.”

When Statistics Canada announced it planned the pilot project, which was to launch next month, the outrage was widespread, as many felt the national statistics agency was overreaching its mandate and threatening the privacy of regular citizens.

The agency’s plan was to collect personal financial data from nine Canadian banks and financial institutions, including credit card payment history and account balances.

TransUnion spokesperson, David Blumberg, confirmed to Global News that government agency has indeed stopped requesting information “at this time.”

“We provided Statistics Canada with select credit information on consumers to help them efficiently collect information for demographic and economic research,” Blumberg said in a statement. “Statistics Canada’s access to and use of the data is for statistical purposes only and has no impact on any individual’s credit score. Statistics Canada has determined not to request further information from TransUnion at this time.”

“Statistics Canada had portrayed the desire for banking records as part of a broader shift away from traditional phone- and paper-based surveys in favour of using private and public sector databases as a source of public interest statistics,” reads the Globe and Mail report.