When I started my five-year mandate as commissioner, I committed to working on access and privacy issues that matter most to Ontarians and on which the IPC can have most positive and significant impact. As part of this commitment, we embarked on a strategic planning exercise to identify the priorities that will guide our office’s work throughout my term as commissioner.
Thus began the journey in September 2020 when we started gathering ideas based on what we were hearing from Ontarians, and what we were seeing emerge as trends in Canada and internationally. We convened a group of top-notch experts to seek their advice, and in December, launched a public consultation to gather even broader feedback on our proposed strategic priorities. We received nearly 60 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders including advocacy groups, children’s aid societies, Crown corporations, health institutions, individuals, law enforcement agencies, municipalities, private sector organizations, provincial institutions, researchers, think tanks, and universities.
Today, after having carefully considered all that we heard, I am pleased to announce the IPC Strategic Priorities 2021-2025. These priorities focus on promoting and protecting Ontarians’ information rights in a data-driven world in which institutions and organizations are rapidly accelerating their use of digital technologies and artificial intelligence.
The IPC’s strategic priorities, and related goal statements, are:
|Privacy and Transparency in a Modern Government||Advance Ontarians’ privacy and access rights by working with public institutions to develop bedrock principles and comprehensive governance frameworks for the responsible and accountable deployment of digital technologies.
|Children and Youth in a Digital World||Champion the access and privacy rights of Ontario’s children and youth by promoting their digital literacy and the expansion of their digital rights, while holding public institutions accountable for protecting the children and youth they serve.
|Next-Generation Law Enforcement||Contribute to building public trust in law enforcement by working with relevant partners to develop the necessary guardrails for the adoption of new technologies that protect both public safety and Ontarians’ access and privacy rights.
|Trust in Digital Health||Promote confidence in the digital health care system by guiding custodians to respect the privacy and access rights of Ontarians, and supporting the pioneering use of personal health information for research and analytics to the extent it serves the public good.
In implementing these strategic priorities, the IPC will apply an accessibility and equity lens to our work; we will be bold in our vision, and pragmatic in our approach; we plan to collaborate with, and consult, others; and, we will strive to develop the knowledge, skills, and capacity needed to advance each of these priority areas.
As we were developing these priorities, we were also mindful of the government’s ongoing consultations regarding the possible introduction of a made-in-Ontario private sector privacy law. Recognizing the significance of this game-changing opportunity, we thought it wise to anticipate how our office could best prepare itself should this idea of a new law become a reality. For this reason, we articulated a fifth provisional goal statement that will allow us to quickly pivot our attention to this new priority area, if and as needed:
“Develop the foundational building blocks and oversight mechanisms for implementing Ontario’s private-sector privacy law in a manner that protects privacy, supports responsible innovation, and accords with our province’s unique circumstances and economic reality.”
Given limited resources, we will have many tough choices to make, and these priorities will help us make them. By focusing on these priorities, I believe we can greatly enhance our effectiveness and, ultimately, our added value for Ontarians.
These strategic priorities serve as an exciting road map for addressing key access and privacy challenges that lie ahead, but of course, identifying them is only the first stop along our journey. In the weeks and months to come – as we move from strategic priorities to strategic outcomes – we will be reaching out to relevant stakeholders to develop more detailed operational plans, along with key success indicators that will help us track and monitor progress towards achieving our goals.
I’m grateful to everyone who participated in the process of developing these strategic priorities by taking the time to provide us with such valuable feedback. I am also heartened by all those who offered to work with our office to advance each priority area and expressed keen interest in forging new collaborations. While the formal consultation may have ended, the conversation is far from over and I look forward to continuing our dialogue.
In the days and years to come, we will – as they say – plan the work, and work the plan. And, together, we will promote and protect Ontarians’ information rights and help build the public’s trust in the institutions and organizations that serve them.
This post is also available in: French