StatsCan wants banking info

Canadians are concerned that Statistics Canada wants to take their banking information without their permission.

In my late October MP report, I referred to the serious concerns I was hearing from citizens that StatsCan is demanding access to personal financial and banking information, including all transactions along with bank account balances, without citizens’ consent.

Since that time, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and the Official Opposition have been able to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about these very serious concerns in the House of Commons. 

In response the Prime Minister has made it clear that he strongly supports Ottawa bureaucrats having access to your personal financial information.

The Prime Minister has also stated that Statistics Canada is actively engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on this file. 

There is a problem with that statement. 

The Privacy Commissioner has publicly stated he had no idea Statistics Canada wanted data on 500,000 households, until Global News published these details.

Further, the Privacy Commissioner has also stated that Statistics Canada is falling “way short” of its stated objective of being transparent.

Why does this matter? 

Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology had an opportunity to question the head of Statistics Canada on this program and learned some troubling new information.

Although initial reports suggested that 500,000 Canadians would be targeted annually, the actual number is 500,000 households. 

This means that everyone living within your family home would also be subject to having their personal financial information taken without their consent. 

Statistics Canada also admitted that it is intentionally taking more information than it believes is necessary. 

This means each year, 150,000 households more than necessary will have their financial data taken without consent.

Another troubling admission is that although Statistics Canada will “anonymize” your personal financial data. The agency also admitted that your original data, including your identity, will not be deleted and that if it is deemed necessary to reunify your data, Statistics Canada will retain the ability to do so.

When asked specifically why not delete this personal contact information, the agency did not provide an answer. 

We also learned that Statistics Canada can charge fees to private corporations for providing them with neighbourhood by neighbourhood aggregated data, however Statistics Data insists that this is not “selling” your data, but is recovering fees for service. 

I have had constituents share with me that they feel large companies, such as Facebook and Amazon, already have a significant amount of private transactional and personal information.

Statistics Canada has claimed this pilot program to take your private financial data without your consent is on hold pending the investigation from the Privacy Commissioner.

This week, the Globe and Mail reported that 74 per cent of Canadians they surveyed are opposed to Statistics Canada taking their personal financial data without their consent. 

Locally, I am hearing even higher levels of opposition.

The Trudeau Liberal Government remains strongly supportive of your private financial information being taken without your consent and has claimed that citizens’ concerns that are raised by both the Conservative and NDP opposition is simply “fear mongering”.

My question this week:  

  • Are you concerned about your financial information being taken without your consent and shared with Ottawa bureaucrats or do you believe this is all a case of fear mongering?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


Carbon tax disaster

There was more attention than usual on U.S. politics this week as many watched the results of the U.S. mid-term elections.

In Washington State, there also was a vote to implement a state carbon tax.

This vote was Initiative No. 1631, which proposed a carbon tax of $15/ton and was rejected with a majority 56 per cent of roughly two million voters saying no.

This was the second time a Washington State carbon tax has been rejected by a majority of voters with the previous initiative being voted down in 2016.

Why does this matter to Canadians?

Here in B.C., some of our industries compete with industries located in Washington State.

When an industry in a jurisdiction paying carbon taxes cannot compete with that same industry in another jurisdiction, not paying carbon taxes, there is a serious concern for economic harm and job losses.

This situation is called carbon leakage, which is even referenced in the current B.C. NDP Provincial budget document.

Here is how carbon leakage is defined in that budget document:

  • “Industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price:

If Industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”

In Ottawa, the Trudeau Liberal government has also acknowledged this same principle.

Liberal MP Sean Fraser, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, recently admitted that when it comes to big industrial emitters in “trade-exposed industries," the Liberal government has recently softened carbon tax on big polluters because in the absence of carbon tax relief, the carbon tax could potentially have jobs leave and it will do nothing for emissions.

In New Brunswick, the Trudeau Liberal government has given a 95.5 per cent percent exemption on carbon tax that applies to coal-fired power.

Coal power is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Atlantic Canada. The largest emitter is the Irving Oil refinery, which imports oil from Countries that also do not have carbon taxes.

B.C. is also not immune from carbon tax exemptions.

As one example, despite the B.C. NDP government signing onto the Trudeau national carbon tax, the new B.C. LNG investment will be exempt from the carbon tax increases called for in that agreement.

This is not an isolated incident where a polluting industry in BC has secured some form of carbon tax relief.

Why do I raise these points?

The challenge is that increasingly some of Canada’s largest polluters are being given exemptions from paying carbon tax.

These carbon tax exemptions seldom draw major national media headlines and many citizens are unaware they are occurring.

However, for the average citizen and for small business owners there is no carbon tax relief.

Here in B.C., more increases in carbon tax remain on the horizon.

My question this week is one of fairness.

  • With large-scale polluters increasingly being given carbon tax relief, do you think it is fair that, here in B.C., average citizens are being asked to pay more carbon tax?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Libs' tactics Orwellian

I have been overwhelmed by citizens asking what can be summarized by the following question:

  • “Is it true that Statistics Canada is demanding access to certain Canadians personal financial and banking information, including all transactions along with bank account balances without citizens’ consent or even notification that this is going on?”

When news of this potential sharing of your personal financial information with Ottawa bureaucrats first broke (full credit to Global News) the Official Opposition immediately began hearing very serious concerns, even outrage, from many Canadians.

This was similar to what occurred when it was announced the Liberal government was going to claw back employee discounts and treat them as taxable benefits. 

In that case when the Official Opposition raised these concerns, the Liberals announced it was a policy directive that was not signed off by the Minister and would not go forward.

Our hopeful expectation was this might be a similar situation. 

Unfortunately, in question period this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that he fully supports your personal banking information being shared with Ottawa bureaucrats without either your consent, or your knowledge.

The Prime Minister has stated that he believes your data will remain secure. The fact that you have not consented to your financial data being shared and that you will not be  notified that your banking information has been taken is perfectly acceptable and is something he supports.

On Thursday my opposition colleague, MP Candice Bergen, presented more than 800 pages of government documents showing hundreds of incidents of privacy breaches affecting thousands of citizens over the past 19 months.

Fortunately, on Oct. 31,  the Privacy Commissioner announced he will launch an formal investigation into these proposed actions from Statistics Canada.

In my view, this is not 1984. No government should be using Orwellian techniques to harvest your personal private banking information.

Your personal financial information belongs to you and you have a right to know when it is being accessed and for what purpose. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and our Official Opposition caucus do not support this Liberal supported assault on your personal financial privacy. 

My question this week is a simple one: 

  • Do you?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711. 


B.C. misses tax break

You may have seen or heard media reports regarding a carbon tax rebate plan announced by the Trudeau Liberal Government.

What is this new carbon tax rebate plan?

The Federal Liberal Government has mandated a national carbon tax to be implemented across Canada allowing individual provinces and Territories some flexibility to set the parameters of how this carbon tax program will be implemented.

As an example, here in British Columbia, a carbon tax has been in place since 2008. The Provincial NDP Government has announced it will continue to increase this carbon tax to meet the federal standard set by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Other provinces, most notably Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick have either openly refused a carbon tax or have enacted other environmental policies that Mr. Trudeau has decided do not meet his carbon tax threshold.

In these four provinces (and these four provinces only) residents will soon be getting annual carbon tax rebates from the federal government. 

In Manitoba, the rebate is $336, Ontario is $300, N.B. is $248 and Saskatchewan is $598. 

In British Columbia, the rebate is zero.

One local citizen recently shared with me that this Liberal carbon tax policy essentially rewards provinces that have rejected the Liberals carbon tax. 

An interesting observation.

In my view, this Liberal rebate is an admission that their national carbon tax is not truly revenue neutral and that people will pay more in costs related to the carbon tax.  

The intent in these four provinces, according to the Liberals, is to return a larger carbon tax rebate than what the Liberals calculate citizens in these provinces will pay in increased carbon taxes. 

In other words, the Liberals are suggesting that if you live in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick, you will make money and come out ahead after paying a carbon tax. 

This same carbon tax credit that will be implemented through income tax returns, will also apply to the territories. 

In August, the Trudeau Liberals also lowered the amount of carbon tax that some of Canada’s largest polluters will pay as a result of “competitiveness” concerns as many of Canada’s largest trading partners do not have a national carbon tax.

It should also be noted that the recently negotiated USMCA trade agreement between Canada, U.S. and Mexico is also silent on the subject of a North American carbon tax meaning that competitiveness concerns will remain.

My question this week: 

  • Do you believe government claims that you will come out ahead financially after paying increased taxes?

I can be reached at [email protected] or at 1-800-665-8711.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories