Senate of Parliament Building, Ottawa, Canada

Following confirmation that Statistics Canada (StatsCan)intends to compel major financial institutions to provide detailed customer banking information, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce announced Monday that it will hold at least one hearing to hear views on whether such information should be required by the federal agency.

StatsCan is reportedly seeking financial transaction data from the banks on 500,000 customers each year in order to improve the quality of its data.

“It makes me uncomfortable to think that banks may be forced to turn over every single financial transaction a person makes. While I don’t question the good intentions of the dedicated professionals at Statistics Canada, I would like to have more than just assurances that the intimate, personal details of Canadians’ lives will be protected,” says Senator Doug Black, committee chairman, in a statement.

The committee intends to invite Navdeep Bains, the minister responsible for StatsCan; Daniel Therrien, privacy commissioner; Anil Arora, chief statistician; representatives from the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) and others to answer its questions. The first hearing is expected Nov. 8.

The disclosure of StatsCan’s plans come in the wake of the Senate banking committee’s recent report into cybersecurity. The report recommends the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) be given greater powers to ensure that businesses comply with privacy legislation, and that federal agencies be required to report data breaches to OPC.

“Our latest report on cybersecurity shows just how vulnerable we can be to data theft. I want to know more about the rationale for Statistics Canada’s request and what security measures will be put in place to protect Canadians’ data and privacy,” adds Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen deputy chairwoman of the committee.