In February, the Supreme Court released reasons in Bernard v. Canada (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 13, a case involving a CRA employee who objected to providing her home contact information to the union that was required to represent her despite her non-member status.

The union had sought the contact information to fulfill its responsibilities and was eventually successful in obtaining a PSLR Board order granting it access. On judicial review, the Federal Court of Appeal held that the Board had not breached the employee’s Charter and privacy rights by ordering disclosure against her wishes.

A majority of the Supreme Court agreed.

It held that the union had a number of duties imposed upon it by statute, including a duty to fairly represent all employees in the bargaining unit that could not be waived. The union’s duties required it to have the means to communicate with bargaining unit employees quickly. It would be handicapped in performing these duties if it was denied access to information that could assist in their performance and that was possessed by the employer. Access to work contact information alone was insufficient for a variety of reasons.

Federal privacy legislation was not breached in making the employee’s home contact information available to the union. The purpose for which the union wanted the information (to represent employee interests) was a use consistent with the purpose of its collection (to contact employees concerning their terms and conditions of employment for the appropriate administration of the employment relationship).

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