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Workplace security and employee rights

Region: Ontario Answer # 6005

In Canada, workplace security is governed by a blend of federal and provincial laws. Federal legislation, such as the Criminal Code, provides a foundational framework for addressing criminal activities in workplaces nationwide. The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) address specific facets of workplace security and safety.

The Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005 (PSISA) regulates the security industry and sets the standards of practice for security personal in Ontario, playing a vital role in safeguarding individuals, businesses, and property.  Other laws involve search and seizure, privacy, and human rights and form the basis for defining the rights and limitations of security personnel.

If you require security services in your workplace, contact our preferred experts, Smith Security.

Search and Seizure

Security personnel in Canada, whether working in public or private organizations, do not carry the same search and seizure powers as law enforcement agencies like the police. Their activities must strictly adhere to the legal boundaries established by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter). Section 8 of the Charter deals specifically with search and seizure and states that everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Any searches or seizures conducted by security personnel must comply with rigorous legal standards, including obtaining proper consent or adhering to specific legal requirements for exceptional circumstances.

Privacy laws

Canada maintains rigorous privacy laws that govern the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), a federal law, establishes comprehensive rules for organizations, including security companies, concerning handling individuals’ personal information. Security personnel must abide by these laws when conducting surveillance or investigations that involve collecting and handling personal data.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada created guidelines for workplace surveillance. These guidelines recommend that employers inform employees of:

  • the purpose of the surveillance,
  • the types of data collected, and
  • how it will be used

Security Camera Regulations: Provincial legislation has specific regulations governing the use of security cameras in various settings, such as workplaces and public spaces. These regulations, found under both the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) dictate where and how surveillance cameras can be used.  Under these laws, employers are required to provide visible signage informing individuals that they are being recorded and notify employees of the reason for the cameras.

More information on this legislation can be found in 6004 Privacy laws and security services.

Human Rights

In Canada, human rights principles are found in various federal and provincial human rights legislation, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code. If a federal entity, such as a bank or airline, is involved, the federal law called the Canadian Human Rights Act applies.

These principles follow the prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as race, gender, religion, or disability. Security personnel must respect and champion these principles in their interactions with employees and individuals in the workplace. Discriminatory actions by security personnel are unlawful and subject to legal consequences. View the Human Rights section of Legal Line for more information.

Security Training

Security personnel in Canada are subject to mandatory training and licensing requirements. This training encompasses comprehensive education on security operations’ legal and ethical dimensions. It ensures that security personnel are well-versed in the legal boundaries and obligations governing their roles, including respecting employee rights.

Collaboration with Law Enforcement

While security personnel can collaborate with law enforcement agencies, when necessary, they do not possess equivalent legal authority to that of police officers. In situations demanding police intervention, security personnel may work closely with law enforcement. They must defer to law enforcement’s legal authority when undertaking actions such as making arrests or conducting searches that transcend their legal powers.

The legal framework behind workplace security in Canada encompasses federal and provincial laws. Security personnel must diligently operate within the confines of these legal provisions, upholding employee rights, adhering to privacy regulations, and championing anti-discrimination principles. Training and licensing requirements play a pivotal role in ensuring that security personnel are aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities.

More information on employee rights can be found in the Employee Law section of Legal Line.

For help

For help with security services in the workplace, including corporate, private and construction site workplaces, and for other types of private security services, contact our preferred experts, Smith Security. If you are interested in becoming a professional security guard, they also offer a government approved security guard training course.


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