Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace Laws in Canada

Layman’s Guide To Surveillance Camera Laws In Canada Below!


Complete with links to the actual laws. Read below to learn more.


Workplace video surveillance laws are intended to protect employers and employees. Laws governing surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada are more strict than you may expect. Get safe advice from the security professionals at Jay360 to help you make compliant choices without negatively impacting employee morale. Wondering what is allowed with surveillance cameras in the workplace? In this article, we look at how to best protect business owners from breaking the law when using surveillance, along with must-ask questions before installing a camera. Employees will also find information below on their rights and what is considered excessive monitoring that can be reported for privacy violations.

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Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace Laws In Canada – What Can And Can’t I Do As A Business owner?

In Canada, there are laws and regulations in place for business owners regarding video surveillance. One instance of questions arising concerning this was the Ottawa Public Transit Case.  In this specific scenario, an investigation was ordered after the employer installed 27 surveillance cameras around the workplace. It was determined that to confirm whether or not the surveillance cameras were legal, they needed to assess the situation. They then conducted a four-part test:

  • Were the surveillance cameras and recording system necessary to meet a specific need of the employer?
  • Were the cameras likely to be effective in meeting that need?
  • Was the loss of privacy proportional to the benefit gained?
  • Was there a less privacy-invasive way of achieving the same end?

These are 4 great questions to ask as a business owner if you’re wondering what the laws around video surveillance in a workplace in Canada are. To read the whole case, click here.



Why Is It Important To Know The Laws On Surveillance?

Knowing the laws on surveillance can help you make the right security investments, reduce the risk of harming your public image, and also educate yourself on employees’ privacy rights. Because of the competitive business landscape, knowing what is valid surveillance can also help you manage your business security. The main reason to know the laws is to avoid conflicts with employees and vendors which could detract from business. Litigation can be costly and though some jurisdictions make it less apparent what is proper and improper use, having the most thorough background information will surely help a business owner looking to increase their security profile.  Collecting personal video or audio of another person without expressed consent is a violation of PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act) and can lead to regulatory inquiries and lawsuits with stakeholders.



What Does The Government Say About Surveillance Camera Laws?

The government is typically the referee when it comes to balancing information security for businesses while also defending the privacy right of citizens. Canadian lawmakers will continue to debate and alter policies to meet the needs of residents, but here is what we know so far about the law today along with due diligence tests to help position your company if an inquiry does arise:

  • Can I use a camera to monitor employee performance/conduct? – No. This is a violation of employee privacy, a camera can only be installed to help identify the source of criminal activity (source). This also rules out the temptation to monitor employees outside of work, including gathering and distributing such footage or information.
    Due diligence test: If uncertain, explore the concept with your team and an unbiased third-party to increase your due diligence profile.
  • What is the proper use of security surveillance?  The privacy commissions office shares that monitoring of critical assets or high-crime areas is permissible and part of reasonable use (source).
    Due diligence test: Ensure your company can demonstrate other options were evaluated and can articulate why surveillance was chosen instead of other less invasive measures.
  • What is the permitted use of surveillance video/audio information? – Recorded media must not be used to track the movement of employees; it is for security purposes rather than monitoring individual employees (source).
    Due diligence test: If company items go missing, get the consent of employees before reviewing footage of specific employees (source).
  • How do I Minimize the stakeholders affected? – If a storefront is using surveillance it is recommended that pedestrians passing by the store should not be recorded (source).
    Due diligence test: Consider the objective of the monitoring solution and whether the lowest number of individuals are being monitored to fulfill that purpose.



surveillance cameras hidden versus visible

Must-Ask Questions  Before Installing Surveillance

Thinking through the implications of adding surveillance technology to your workplace will help in the long-run for planning and value. Here is a listing of questions you should ask and prepare to answer prior to using surveillance or imaging applications.

  • What if footage has been acquired of criminal activity in a private area?
    – Privacy can actually sometimes trump this kind of evidence, and it can be dismissed from court given that an employee felt privacy was assured (source).
  • Does your company work with a union?  – Understand the collective agreement in place and whether there are provisions for security monitoring.
  • Considering surveillance of outdoor property?
    – Organizations are required to post signs when monitoring public or adjacent spaces (source).
  • Have you created a policy for managing video surveillance?
    – Determine what are the procedures for the creation, modification, archival, and disposal of footage. Communicate this policy to employees so they are aware (source).
  • Are you ready to answer questions from the public?
    – So you’ve decided to monitor, but there may be inquiries from customers who visit your office or privacy guardians who may want to inquire about your policy and plans. Turn inquiry into opportunity by being prepared and illustrating your extensive analysis.

Find more workplace privacy tips here.



Jay360: The Fastest & Easiest Way to Install Compliant Security Systems

jay-360Jay 360 looks at helping you position your security system not only for an optimized security profile but also for regulatory and privacy compliance. Ensure you have the right tools for the job when safeguarding your premise with the right security advisor for peace of mind and privacy. The team helps manage your business interests, protecting valuable assets and confidential information without compromising employee privacy.  You can rely on the knowledge and experience of Jay 360 to provide you with the best home security solutions. Digital or analog, we have you covered. We will recommend only the security products that meet your specific needs and budget.

Call on Jay360 to help you to plan the ideal security camera system to suit you and your needs, all at the very best value.

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