AAFC creates many, many farm income programs. They always share the same broad purpose: to give financial assistance to producers. The target groups for the programs is always the same, producers, or a subset of the larger group (e.g.: grain producers; cattle producers; horticultural producers). The information required to be eligible for different programs is usually overlapping: the name, address, Social Insurance Number are always required, and some specific information about the farm operation, inventory, expenses and revenues, is also almost always required. So, can all farm income programs have open access to each other's data, and can all farm income programs freely share data between programs? The answer is yes and no.
First, information from one program cannot be provided to another program without a request from the second program. That request must specify exactly what information is being sought and how that information will be used. The requesting program must conclude that the information being requested is necessary for it, not merely something that could be useful. This is required even if the producer has consented to the disclosure of the information to the requesting program.
The program receiving the request must determine whether disclosing the requested information to the requesting program would be a "consistent use" of that information. If so, then the disclosure to the requesting program is authorized by s. 8(2)(a) of the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act does not define what is a "consistent use". The Treasury Board Policy on Privacy and Data Protection explains "consistent use" this way:
For a use or disclosure to be consistent, it must have a reasonable and direct connection to the original purpose(s) for which the information was obtained or compiled.
A test of whether a proposed use or disclosure is "consistent" may be whether it would be reasonable for the individual who provided the information to expect that it would be used in the proposed manner. This means that the original purpose and the proposed purpose are so closely related that the individual would expect that the information would be used for the consistent purpose, even if the use is not spelled out. As required by subsection 9(4) of the Act, once the consistent use is identified, it is added to the description of the uses of the information.
Remember: even where a disclosure would be a "consistent use", nothing in law requires the program that holds the information to provide it to the requesting program. The decision to disclose is discretionary. A lawyer can give an opinion as to whether a contemplated disclosure probably is or is not a consistent use, but if it is considered to be a consistent use, only the appropriate program official can decide whether to exercise the discretion to disclose the information.
If it is decided to disclose information as a consistent use, then s. 9(4) of the Privacy Act ( 18 ) requires the disclosing program to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of the new consistent use and to add the consistent use to the Info Source personal information bank of the disclosing program. Programs should notify the AAFC ATIP Office of the consistent use, and it is the AAFC ATIP Office that should ensure these two requirements are met. – less–ZoomInfo