Privacy Impact Assessment Summary - Participant Funding Program

11 September 2012

Table of Contents

Purpose

This is the report on the Privacy Impact Assessment (hereafter “PIA”) that was conducted in relation to the Participant Funding Program (hereafter “PFP”), a program by which the NEB provides funding to individuals, Aboriginal groups, landowners, incorporated non-industry not-for-profit organizations, or other interest groups who seek to intervene in the NEB’s hearing process for energy facilities applications.

Description

The Participant Funding Program supports public participation in the regulatory process for facility hearings that are conducted under the National Energy Board Act. The program is administered by the NEB.

The PFP is designed to provide financial assistance to support the timely and meaningful engagement of the public, including Aboriginal groups, landowners, and incorporated non-industry not-for-profit organizations in the NEB's regulatory process for facility hearings. It supports public participation that contributes to an open, balanced process which strengthens the quality and credibility of the regulatory process.

While the NEB’s PFP is closely modeled on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's (CEAA) Participant Funding Program, there are a few differences to reflect the differences in the NEB and CEAA mandates, and their processes. The NEB's PFP only applies to the NEB's regulatory process for facility hearings.

Eligible applicants include individuals, Aboriginal groups, landowners, incorporated non-industry not-for-profit organizations, or other interest groups who seek to intervene in the public review process for projects in which they have a meaningful interest. Eligible applicants must be able to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • have a direct, local interest in the project, such as living or owning property near the project area;
  • have local community insights and/or Aboriginal traditional knowledge respecting to the proposed project;
  • have an interest in potential project impacts on treaty lands, settlement lands or traditional territories and/or related claims and rights; or
  • plan to provide expert information on the mandate and decisions of the NEB on proposed projects.

All approved applicants are required to register for intervener status in the facility hearing and sign a Standard Contribution Agreement before funding is released.

To become an intervener in a facility hearing, the individual or organization must submit an application by the deadline set in the NEB's Hearing Order. The NEB issues a Hearing Order after an application has been received, and sets out the hearing process and deadlines. The Hearing Order may be released after the Funding awards have been announced. Current Hearing Orders are listed on the NEB website under Major Applications and Projects.

Under the program, intervenors’ participation is supported by providing funding to cover eligible expenses, such as travel costs and fees for experts. Contributions may be provided for the following eligible activities:

  • activities associated with coordinating the collaboration of interested parties to the hearing
  • review and provision of comments on the draft List of Issues and scope of the environmental assessment to be considered during the hearing
  • review of the application and Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the project proponent; and
  • preparation for and participation in hearings convened by the NEB, or a review panel, to consider the proposed project.

Why the Privacy Impact Assessment Was Necessary

A Privacy Impact Assessment was necessary because the PFP requires the collection, use and disclosure of certain types of personal information about identifiable individuals. The Privacy Impact Assessment Directive (April 1, 2010) of the Treasury Board of Canada requires that a PIA be conducted to ensure that it is administered in compliance with the Privacy Act and the generally accepted privacy principles, and that the associated privacy risks are properly identified and mitigated.

Privacy Impact Assessment Objectives

  • To assess, reduce and mitigate potential risks associated with the collection of personal information of individuals participating in the NEB’s PFP, including the secure keeping and destruction of this personal information.

Privacy Impact Assessment Findings and Risk Summary

Although, on an overall level, the NEB’s Participant Funding Program (PFP) was found to be in compliance with the Privacy Act and generally accepted privacy principles, some outstanding privacy risks were identified by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.  Those risks can be summarized by the following:

  1. Modifications to the PFP application for (certification and consent statement) should include the following wording:
    “The personal information collected on this form will be used to determine your eligibility to receive funding under the Participant Funding Program and is collected under the authority of the National Energy Board Act, subsection 16.3. Your personal information may also be used for program evaluation and reporting to senior management. The personal information will be protected in accordance with the Privacy Act and described in Personal Information Bank NEB PPU 025. Individuals have the right to access their personal information and to request changes to incorrect personal information by contacting the NEB Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator at atipoffice-bureauaiprp@neb-one.gc.ca.”
  2. The wording of the privacy notice contained in the PFP Application for Funding Form and the Standard Contribution Agreement needs to be rewritten since it leaves too much discretion to the NEB in regard to the possible disclosures that may be made of the information while the generally accepted principles promote clarity in the message;
  3. The wording of the privacy notice contained in the PFP Application for Funding Form and the Standard Contribution Agreement needs to be rewritten since it is too vague to allow the applicants to properly assess the risks that they are taking by signing below the consent statement.
  4. In addition to the NEB stating that it assumes no responsibility for submissions that are misdirected or delayed, the privacy notice contained in the PFP Application for Funding Form and the Standard Contribution Agreement needs to be rewritten to contain a mention as to the risks of fraud and identity theft associated with an applicant filling out these documents. Further, it should also mention that the NEB accepts no responsibility for what happens to the personal information while it is under their control.

Action Plan - Risk Mitigation

All privacy risks identified in the above risk summary were addressed and mitigated by the NEB through its approval process with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Security Management

No issues were identified.

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