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This Act is current to November 1, 2017
See the Tables of Legislative Changes for this Act’s legislative history, including any changes not in force.

Statistics Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 439

Contents
1Definitions
2Director and staff
3Temporary staff
4Oath of secrecy
5Powers of director
6Discrimination prohibited
7Access to records
8Evidence of appointment
9Secrecy
10Protection of returns
11Agreements with Statistics Canada
12Other agreements
13Offences by those who take oath of secrecy
14Offence by respondents
15Offence of obtaining access to records
16Offence of misrepresentation
17Power to make regulations

Definitions

1  In this Act:

"director" means the director of statistics appointed under section 2;

"ministry" means a ministry, department, board, commission or agency of the Province;

"respondent" means a person or a ministry in respect of whom or in respect of whose activities a report or information is sought or provided under this Act;

"return" means the record of a report or information provided by a respondent;

"Statistics Canada" means the statistics bureau referred to in the Statistics Act (Canada).

Director and staff

2  (1) A person must be appointed under the Public Service Act to be the director of statistics for the purposes of this Act and to carry out the duties of the director under this Act.

(2) Other employees required for the proper administration of this Act may be appointed under the Public Service Act.

Temporary staff

3  (1) Despite the Public Service Act, the minister may employ or engage persons on a temporary basis to assist with a project, program or other matter undertaken under this Act, and those persons are deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be employed under this Act.

(2) An employee of a ministry, other than the one under the administration of the minister, who is engaged in a project, program or other matter to which this Act applies is deemed to be employed under this Act while so engaged.

Oath of secrecy

4  The director and every person employed for the purposes of this Act or employed or engaged in a project, program or other matter to which this Act applies must, before commencing their duties, take an oath or affirm in the following form:

I, .......................... solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and honestly fulfill my duties as an employee in conformity with the Statistics Act, and all rules and instructions made under it, and that I will not, without proper authority, disclose or make known any matter or thing that comes to my knowledge because of my employment.

Powers of director

5  (1) Subject to the minister's approval, the director may develop statistics and in particular may

(a) collect, compile, compare, analyze, abstract, project and distribute statistical information respecting the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and conditions of British Columbia and persons in British Columbia or doing business in British Columbia,

(b) collaborate with or assist ministries in the collection, compilation, analysis and distribution of statistical information, including statistics derived from the activities of those ministries, and

(c) coordinate statistical activities between the government and statistical agencies of other governments.

(2) In addition to the powers conferred under subsection (1), the minister may authorize the director to collect, compile, compare, analyze, abstract, project and distribute other statistics or statistical information the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers desirable.

Discrimination prohibited

6  (1) The minister, the director and other persons employed for the purposes of this Act must not use the powers conferred by, or information collected under, this Act to the prejudice of any person.

(2) Despite anything in this Act, the director may authorize the use of sampling methods for the collection of statistics.

Access to records

7  A person having custody or charge of records must make them available to the director or a person authorized by the director, if those records

(a) are maintained by a ministry, municipality, regional district, corporation, business or organization, from which information respecting the objects of this Act can be obtained, or

(b) would aid in the completion or correction of information obtained from a body referred to in paragraph (a).

Evidence of appointment

8  A document purporting to be signed by the minister or the director referring to the appointment or removal of an employee, or setting out instructions to an employee, is, without proof of the signature or of the official character of the person purporting to have signed it, proof of the appointment, removal or instructions.

Secrecy

9  (1) Except as otherwise permitted by this section and except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act,

(a) a person who is not employed or engaged under this Act and sworn under section 4 must not be permitted to examine an identifiable individual return, and

(b) a person sworn under section 4 must not disclose or knowingly cause to be disclosed, by any means, information obtained under this Act in a manner that it is possible from the disclosure to relate the particulars obtained from an individual return to an identifiable individual person, business or organization.

(2) Subsection (1) applies despite any provision of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act other than section 44 (1) (b), (2), (2.1) and (3) of that Act.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to personal information, as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, that has been in existence for 100 or more years or to other information that has been in existence for 50 or more years.

(4) Subject to subsection (1), the director or other person employed for the purposes of this Act must not use the powers under this Act to restrict the free communication of information to ministries and persons who are legally entitled to the information.

(5) The minister may authorize the release

(a) to Statistics Canada, under an agreement under section 11, of the particulars of information obtained in the course of administering this Act, or

(b) to a ministry, municipality, regional district, corporation, business, organization or Canada or a province that was party to an agreement under section 12, of the particulars of information collected under the agreement.

(6) The director may authorize the disclosure of one or more of the following kinds of information:

(a) collected by persons, organizations or ministries for their own purposes and communicated to the director;

(b) respecting a person or organization if disclosure is consented to in writing by the person or organization affected;

(c) respecting a business if disclosure is consented to in writing by the owner of the business or, if it is a corporation, by a person authorized by the corporation to consent;

(d) available to the public under an enactment;

(e) in the form of an index or list of

(i) names and locations of individual establishments, firms or businesses,

(ii) products produced, manufactured, processed, transported, stored, purchased or sold, or the services provided, by individual establishments, firms or businesses in the course of their business, and

(iii) names and addresses of individual establishments, firms or businesses that are within specific ranges of numbers of employees or persons engaged in or constituting the work force.

(7) If the information referred to in subsection (6) (a) is communicated to the director, it is subject to the same secrecy requirements to which it was subject when collected and the director may only disclose that information in the manner and to the extent agreed by the collector of the information and the director.

(8) The contravention of subsection (1) by a member of the public service constitutes reasonable cause for dismissal.

Protection of returns

10  (1) Except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act,

(a) a return made under this Act and a copy of the return in the possession of the respondent is privileged and may not be used as evidence in any proceedings, and

(b) a person sworn under section 4 may not by an order of a court, tribunal or other body be required in any proceedings to give testimony or to produce a return or record about information obtained in carrying out this Act.

(2) This section applies to information the director is prohibited by this Act from disclosing, or that may only be disclosed under an authorization under section 9 (5), (6), or (7).

Agreements with Statistics Canada

11  (1) The minister may enter an agreement with Statistics Canada for the exchange with or transmission to Statistics Canada of one or more of the following:

(a) replies to specific statistical inquiries;

(b) replies to specific classes of information collected under this Act;

(c) tabulations or analyses based on replies referred to in paragraph (a) or (b).

(2) Except for information described in section 9 (6) or (7), an agreement entered under this section does not apply to a reply made to, or information collected by, the director before the date the agreement was entered or is to have effect, whichever is the later date.

(3) If the minister collects information in respect of which an agreement under this section applies, the minister must first advise the respondent of the agreement with Statistics Canada and that the information secured from the respondent may be communicated under that agreement.

Other agreements

12  (1) The minister may enter an agreement with a ministry, municipality, regional district, corporation, business, organization or Canada or a province for the exchange of information collected jointly and for subsequent tabulation or publication based on that information.

(2) An agreement under subsection (1) must provide that

(a) a notice is to be sent to the respondent stating that the information is being collected jointly on behalf of the director and the ministry, municipality, regional district, corporation, business, organization or Canada or a province, as the case may be, and

(b) the agreement does not apply to information obtained from a respondent who gives notice in writing to the director that the respondent objects to sharing information between the director and a body referred to in paragraph (a).

(3) An exchange of information under an agreement under this section may, subject to subsection (2), include replies to original inquiries and supplementary information provided by a respondent to the director or the other party jointly collecting the information.

Offences by those who take oath of secrecy

13  (1) A person who, after taking an oath or making an affirmation set out in section 4, does any of the following commits an offence:

(a) makes a false declaration, statement or return in the performance of his or her duties;

(b) in the pretended performance of his or her duties, obtains or seeks to obtain information he or she is not authorized to obtain;

(c) contravenes section 9 (1) (b);

(d) discloses, directly or indirectly, to a person not entitled to receive it, information obtained by him or her in the course of his or her employment that might exert an influence on or affect the market value of a security, product, article or commodity;

(e) uses information referred to in paragraph (d) to speculate in securities, products, articles or commodities.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable to a penalty of not more than $5 000.

Offence by respondents

14  (1) A person who, without lawful excuse, does any of the following commits an offence:

(a) refuses or neglects to answer, or answers falsely, a question required to obtain information for the purposes of this Act that is asked by a person employed under this Act;

(b) refuses or neglects to provide information or to fill in to the best of the person's knowledge and belief a schedule or form that the director requests the person to fill in, and to return it when requested, or gives false or misleading information or practises any other deception.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable to a penalty of not more than $500.

Offence of obtaining access to records

15  (1) A person commits an offence who,

(a) having custody or charge of records maintained in a ministry, municipality, regional district, corporation, business or organization, from which information can be obtained or that would aid in the completion or correction of the information, refuses or neglects to grant access to the records to a person authorized for the purpose by the director, or

(b) otherwise in any way obstructs a person employed in the execution of a duty under this Act.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable to a penalty of not more than $1 000.

Offence of misrepresentation

16  (1) A person who falsely represents himself or herself to be making an inquiry under the authority of this Act or under the authority of the minister or the director commits an offence.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable to a penalty of not more than $5 000.

Power to make regulations

17  (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) establishing appropriate technical standards for surveys, administrative records and other statistical activities of all ministries;

(b) establishing procedures to avoid duplication in the information collected by different ministries.