The federal government has proposed regulations to permit increased electronic interaction with certain government departments. In 2012, the government amended the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act to enable the department (now referred to as Employment and Social Development Canada), and programs under the department’s auspices, to expand and coordinate their electronic commerce initiatives.
The Electronic Documents or Information Regulations set the parameters for the security and data integrity measures necessary to expand electronic commerce and service delivery, specifically in relation to programs under the Canada Pension Plan, the Old Age Security Act, the Employment Insurance Act and certain other grants and contributions.
The department calls the regulations an “early step” in its “comprehensive transformation and modernization agenda.” Eventually, different government programs should offer a “similar electronic service experience.”
The regulations discuss parameters in three areas:
1. Sending and receiving of electronic documents or information, including:
- When an electronic document or electronic information is considered to be sent, received or not received
- The criteria for proof of the date and hour sent or received, for example a transmission slip or an acknowledgement of receipt
2. Electronic signatures
- Defining electronic signature
- Ensuring the signature can be reliably linked to the person who “signed” the electronic document with the electronic signature for the purpose it was required
- Verifying the signer’s intention
3. Conversion, retention, alteration and destruction of documents or information
- Maintaining the admissibility as evidence of electronic documents converted from other formats (e.g., print, other software)
- Requirements for recording the details of the conversion and the quality control associated with the conversion
- Requirements for retaining electronic documents and records associated with them
- Document integrity and verification
The regulations will likely lead to more detailed records of documents, offering greater transparency and also more information available to police and courts. As the various programs implement and expand their electronic business capacity, they may place additional recording obligations on parties that interact with them.
Find the proposed Electronic Documents or Information Regulations here.