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The Personal Investigations Act
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This version is current as of June 24, 2016.
It has been in effect since January 31, 2011.

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C.C.S.M. c. P34

The Personal Investigations Act

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1           In this Act

"director" means the person employed by the government under the minister to supervise the administration of this Act; (« directeur »)

"factual information" means information on a subject as to name, age, place of residence, previous places of residence, marital status, spouse's name and age, number of dependents, particulars of education or professional qualifications, places of employment, previous places of employment, estimated income, paying habits, outstanding credit obligations, cost of living obligations, matters of public record and any information provided by a designated officer in accordance with Part VI of The Family Maintenance Act, or voluntarily supplied by the subject of a personal investigation; (« renseignements basés sur des faits »)

"investigative information" means any information in respect of the subject of a personal investigation that does not come within the definition of factual or medical information; (« renseignements basés sur une investigation »)

"medical information" means any information obtained with the consent of a subject from licensed physicians, medical practitioners, chiropractors, qualified psychologists, psychiatrists or hospitals, clinics or other medically related facilities in respect of the physical or mental health and attitude of the subject; (« renseignements médicaux »)

"minister" means the member of the Executive Council charged by the Lieutenant Governor in Council with the administration of this Act; (« ministre »)

"personal file" means any collection or repository of information obtained from others in the course of making a personal investigation whether the information is stored in written, photographic, electronic or any other form; (« dossier personnel »)

"personal investigation" means any inquiry by any person to obtain factual or investigative information from any source other than the subject with a view to entering into or amending an agreement with the subject for credit, insurance, employment or tenancy, whether the information is transmitted immediately in a personal report or compiled in a personal file; (« enquête sur les particuliers »)

"personal report" means any report, whether written or oral, of information obtained from others in the course of making a personal investigation; (« rapport sur des particuliers »)

"personal reporter" means any person who conducts a personal investigation but where the personal investigation is conducted by an employee of a user, or an employee of a personal reporting agency, in the course of the employee's duties, the employer shall be deemed to be the personal reporter; (« enquêteur privé »)

"personal reporting agency" means any person whose main business is to regularly conduct personal investigations for the purpose of supplying personal reports or the contents of personal files to others for gain; (« bureau d'enquête privé »)

"security alert" means a statement included in a subject's personal file at his or her request, and transmitted as part of any personal report made about the subject, that gives notice to users and others to verify the identity of any person purporting to be the subject; (« avertissement »)

"subject" means the person on whom a personal investigation is carried out or is being carried out; (« personne sujette à une enquête »)

"user" means a person who, for his or her own use, conducts a personal investigation or causes another to conduct a personal investigation and includes the successors and assigns of a user. (« enquêteur agissant à des fins personnelles »)

S.M. 1995, c. 3, s. 43; S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 2; S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 2.

Exemptions

2           This Act does not apply to

(a) provincial or municipal governments or their agencies, except in respect of an application by a subject for employment, credit, insurance or tenancy; or

(b) police officers acting in their official capacities; or

(c) reports on corporations or partnerships that contain no information on any individual other than factual information regarding the officers or employees of the corporations or partnerships; or

(d) investigations conducted

(i) by a user, without the knowledge of the subject, with a view to inviting the subject to participate in the ownership of a private company or in a professional or business partnership for gain, or

(ii) by a user, for the purpose of making a decision in respect of an application for insurance on the life of a subject, if the face amount of coverage is $25,000. or more and the beneficiary is the employer of the subject.

Consent required

3(1)        No person shall conduct, or cause to be conducted, a personal investigation

(a) without the consent of the subject of the investigation, provided in accordance with the regulations; or

(b) unless, in the case of a provincial or municipal government or an agency of one of them, the subject is given written notice by the user that a personal investigation was conducted and such notice is given within 10 days of the granting or denial of the benefit for which the subject has applied.

Consent may form part of application

3(2)        The consent referred to above may be contained in an application for credit, insurance, employment or tenancy, and the consent shall be deemed to be a continuing consent during the term of any agreement for credit, insurance, employment or tenancy; but if the user refuses any application for increase of any benefits under any such agreement, the user shall give notice of any partial or complete denial of such application as required under sections 6 and 7.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 3.

Exclusion of certain information

4           No personal report shall contain

(a) any reference to race, religion, ethnic origin, or political affiliation of the subject unless this information is voluntarily supplied by the subject; or

(b) information about any bankruptcy of the subject if the personal report is made more than six years after the date of the discharge in bankruptcy, unless the subject has been bankrupt more than once; or

(c) information regarding any writs, judgments, collections or debts that are statute barred; or

(d) information regarding writs issued against the subject more than 12 months prior to the making of the report if the present status of the action is not ascertained; or

(e) information as to any judgment against the subject unless mention is made of the name and, except in the case of information provided by the designated officer under The Family Maintenance Act, the address of the judgment creditor as given at the date of entry of the judgment and the amount of the judgment; or

(f) any other adverse factual or investigative information that is more than six years old unless it is voluntarily supplied by the subject or is otherwise permitted by this Act; or

(g) any investigative information regarding the subject unless reasonable efforts have been made to corroborate the information.

S.M. 1995, c. 3, s. 44; S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 4.

No divulging of contents of personal report

5           No personal reporter, user or personal reporting agency, or any of their employees, shall knowingly divulge the contents of any personal report or personal file to any person other than to

(a) a user or his or her agent, who requires the information for purposes of a decision in respect of a subject's application for credit, insurance, employment or tenancy or any other legitimate business purpose; or

(b) the assignee of an agreement for credit, insurance or tenancy; or

(c) any federal, provincial or municipal government or any agencies thereof, or any police officer acting in that capacity; or

(d) the subject of the report on the request of the subject;

and any failure to comply with this provision is an offence under this Act.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 5.

Subject to be advised of refusal of benefit

6           Where a personal investigation has been conducted and the subject is subsequently denied a benefit, in whole or in part, the user shall, within 10 days from the date of the denial, advise the subject in writing of the denial and the right of the subject to be advised as to any information obtained through the investigation, in accordance with section 7.

Information to be furnished to subject

7(1)        When a subject is notified of a denial, in whole or in part, of an application for a benefit, the subject has the right at any time within 30 days after the notification is given under section 6 to be informed by the user

(a) of the name and address of any personal reporting agency from which information was obtained;

(b) as to the source and detail of all factual information obtained elsewhere than from a personal reporting agency;

(c) as to the nature of all investigative information obtained elsewhere than from a personal reporting agency; and

(d) as to his or her right to protest any information contained in the personal report or the personal file and the manner in which a protest may be made.

Source of information to be supplied

7(2)        Where a subject is notified as to the name and address of any personal reporting agency in accordance with clause (1)(a), the personal reporting agency shall disclose to the subject, within 24 hours of a demand by the subject

(a) the source and detail of all factual information contained in the personal report made by the personal reporting agency to the user;

(b) the nature of any investigative information contained in the personal report made by the personal reporting agency to the user; and

(c) the subject's right to protest any information contained in the personal report and the manner in which a protest may be made.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 6.

Disclosure of personal file information

8(1)        Any person may enquire of a personal reporting agency at any time as to whether the personal reporting agency maintains a personal file on the person and if the personal reporting agency maintains such a file, the personal reporting agency shall disclose to that person the information as required under subsection 7(2) upon payment by the person of such fee as may be prescribed by the regulations.

Right to protest information

8(2)        A person who receives information under subsection (1) has the right to protest the information in accordance with section 10 and the personal reporting agency is subject to the obligations set out in section 11.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 7; S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 3.

Manner of obtaining information

9           A person who has the right to obtain information under section 7 or 8 or under this section may obtain the information

(a) by personally attending at the office of the user or the personal reporting agency, accompanied by a witness if the person so wishes, and identifying himself or herself; or

(b) by making a written request to the user or personal reporting agency and providing reasonable identification.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 8.

Statement of protest

10          Where the subject of a report protests any information contained in a personal report or in a personal file, the subject has the right to file a statement of protest with the user or the personal reporter or both.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 9.

Verification of information

11(1)       Where the subject files a protest with a user or a personal reporter, or any person files a protest with a personal reporting agency, the user, personal reporter or personal investigation agency shall immediately

(a) attempt to verify the information and where the factual or investigative information cannot be verified, expunge the information from the personal file; or

(b) where the veracity of the information is sustained, record the protest in the personal file;

and report the action taken

(c) to the subject of the personal report or personal file; and

(d) to any person to whom the personal report may have been furnished within the previous 60 days.

Personal reporting agency outside Manitoba

11(2)       Where a personal report is made by a personal reporting agency to a user in Manitoba and the office of the personal reporting agency is not located in the Province of Manitoba, the user is responsible for complying with subsection (1).

User outside Manitoba

11(3)       Where a personal reporting agency makes a report to a user whose office is located outside Manitoba, the personal reporting agency is responsible for complying with subsection (1).

Appeal to director

12          Where the subject of a personal report is dissatisfied by the action under section 11, the subject may appeal the matter to the director who shall investigate the matter and

(a) confirm the action taken by the user, personal reporter or personal reporting agency as the case may be; or

(b) direct such other action as the director considers necessary and reasonable under the circumstances to be taken by the user, personal reporter or personal reporting agency.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 10.

Subject may request security alert

12.1(1)     A subject may request a personal reporting agency to include a security alert in his or her personal file.

24-hour toll-free number to request security alert

12.1(2)     A personal reporting agency must provide a telephone number that a subject can call, at any time and without being charged for the call, to request or remove a security alert or amend the information provided under subsection (3).

Subject to provide contact verification information

12.1(3)     When making the request under subsection (1), the subject must provide the personal reporting agency with

(a) a telephone number at which, or another method prescribed by regulation by which, he or she may be contacted for the purpose of subsection 12.4(2); and

(b) any other information specified in the regulations.

Personal reporting agency must include security alert

12.1(4)     As soon as practicable after receiving the request made in accordance with subsection (3), the personal reporting agency must include the security alert in the subject's personal file.

Removing or amending

12.1(5)     The subject may request that the personal reporting agency

(a) remove the security alert from the subject's personal file; or

(b) amend the information provided under subsection (3).

Personal reporting agency to comply with request

12.1(6)     A personal reporting agency must comply with a request under subsection (5) as soon as practicable.

Verifying identity

12.1(7)     Before complying with the subject's request under subsection (1) or (5), the personal reporting agency must

(a) take reasonable steps to verify that the person making the request is the subject; and

(b) record the steps taken.

S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 4.

Expiry

12.2(1)     A security alert expires at the end of the time period, if any, prescribed by regulation.

Information about expiry date

12.2(2)     Upon receiving a request under subsection 12.1(1), the personal reporting agency must inform the subject of the date, if any, that the security alert will expire.

S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 4.

No fee for security alert

12.3        No person shall charge, require or accept a fee in relation to a security alert except as may be prescribed by regulation.

S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 4.

When and to whom alert must be given

12.4(1)     If a security alert is in place, the personal reporting agency must give the security alert to every person to whom the contents of the subject's personal file or personal report are divulged.

User to take reasonable steps to verify person's identity

12.4(2)     A user who receives a security alert must not enter into, amend or replace an agreement for credit, or any other agreement prescribed by regulation, with a person purporting to be the subject, without first

(a) verifying that the person is the subject

(i) by contacting the subject at the telephone number or by the method provided under clause 12.1(3)(a), or

(ii) by taking other reasonable steps; and

(b) recording those actions.

S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 4.

Offence

13          A user or personal reporter who fails or refuses to comply with any of the requirements of this Act is guilty of an offence.

Agreement not to disclose information void

14          Any contract, agreement or understanding entered into between a personal reporter and any user whereby the parties agree to refuse to disclose any information to the subject of a personal report is void and the making of such an agreement or understanding is an offence against this Act; but a user may refer the subject of a report to the personal reporting agency for discussion of the content of any report supplied by the said agency.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 11.

False information

15(1)       No person shall knowingly supply false or misleading information to another who is engaged in making a personal investigation or personal report.

Offence

15(2)       Any person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

Exemption from civil liability

16          No user, personal reporter or personal reporting agency is civilly liable to the subject of a personal report or personal file, unless the user, reporter or agency, as the case may be is or ought to be reasonably aware that part or all of the information in the report or personal file is false, or misleading, or was obtained negligently.

Duties of director

17(1)       The duties of the director include

(a) the receiving, recording and investigation of complaints by any person of breaches of this Act, and the taking of such action thereon as may appear appropriate, including the prosecution of offenders; and

(b) generally, the supervision of this Act.

Access to documents

17(2)       For the purpose of investigating a specific complaint under this Act, the director or any person authorized by the director for the purpose, shall have access during normal business hours to

(a) the business premises of any person carrying on business to which this Act applies, where there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that those premises contain specific documents, correspondence and records relevant to the complaint; and

(b) the specific documents, correspondence and records in those premises which are relevant to the complaint;

and the director or person may make copies of, or take extracts from, the documents, correspondence and records.

Information confidential

17(3)       Except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act, or in any court proceedings, or for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of this Act, neither the director nor any authorized person shall

(a) knowingly communicate, or allow to be communicated, to any person any information obtained by or on behalf of the director under this section; or

(b) knowingly allow any person to inspect, or to have access to, any copy of any book, record, document, file, correspondence, or other record obtained by, or on behalf of, the director under this section.

Exception

17(4)       Subsection (3) does not prohibit

(a) the communication of information by the director to persons charged with the administration of any statutes of Canada or of any other province that relate to the subject matter of this Act; or

(b) the communication by the director of any information with the consent of the person to whom that information relates; or

(c) the release or publication by the director, with the consent of the owner of any book, record, document, file, correspondence or other record, or a copy thereof.

Authority for access

17(5)       Where a person refuses to grant access to business premises or refuses to produce documents, correspondence or records for purposes of subsection (2), the director or any person authorized by the director for the purpose may apply to a justice for an order

(a) granting the director or person access to the business premises;

(b) granting the director or person access to specific documents, correspondence and records in those premises which are relevant to the complaint; and

(c) authorizing the director or person to make copies of, or take extracts from, the documents, correspondence and records.

Where order may be issued

17(6)       A justice may, on an ex parte application where necessary, issue the order referred to in subsection (5) if the justice is satisfied that

(a) there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the business premises in question contain specific documents, correspondence or records relevant to the complaint; and

(b) the authority for access is reasonable and necessary for purposes of investigating the complaint.

Void agreements

18          No agreement, oral or written shall provide or contain any provision, express or implied whereby the parties to the agreement agree that this Act or any provision thereof shall not apply to the agreement or to the parties; and any agreement so made is void and the making of such an agreement is an offence.

Offence and penalty

19          A person who contravenes a provision of this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction,

(a) in the case of an individual,

(i) for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $10,000., and

(ii) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $50,000.; and

(b) in the case of a corporation,

(i) for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $25,000., and

(ii) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $100,000.

S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 5.

Regulations

20          For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act according to their intent, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations and orders as are ancillary thereto and are not inconsistent therewith; and every regulation or order made under, and in accordance with the authority granted by, this section has the force of law; and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations and orders,

(a) prescribing forms of notices and such other forms for use under this Act;

(b) prescribing the time within which and the procedure for making an appeal under section 12;

(c) prescribing fees under this Act;

(c.1) respecting consents under this Act;

(d) exempting certain bulletins, journals or other publications from the application of this Act;

(e) respecting security alerts, including, without limitation,

(i) governing the application of sections 12.1 to 12.4, including exempting agreements or classes of agreements, transactions or classes of transactions, and persons or classes of persons from the application of any or all of those provisions, and prescribing circumstances in which any or all of those provisions do not apply,

(ii) governing how requests are to be made under subsections 12.1(1) and (5),

(iii) for the purpose of clause 12.1(3)(a), prescribing other methods of contacting a subject,

(iv) for the purpose of clause 12.1(3)(b), specifying information to be provided by a subject,

(v) for the purpose of subsection 12.2(1), prescribing the period at the end of which a security alert expires,

(vi) for the purpose of section 12.3, specifying circumstances in which fees may be charged in relation to a security alert, and prescribing the amount of the fee or a method of determining the amount,

(vii) for the purpose of subsection 12.4(2), prescribing other agreements that a user must not enter into, amend or replace without first verifying the person's identity, and

(viii) specifying information that must be provided about security alerts, and respecting the form, timing and manner of providing that information;

(f) defining any word or expression used but not defined in this Act;

(g) respecting any matter necessary or advisable to carry out the purposes of this Act.

S.M. 2005, c. 6, s. 12; S.M. 2006, c. 28, s. 6.