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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Strengthening Cyber Security and Protecting People Online

Updated: May 17

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government is introducing legislation that, if passed, would provide new tools to prevent and respond to cyber security threats and safeguard critical public services, such as health care and education. By enhancing cyber resilience, the government is ensuring these essential sectors remain secure and operational, protecting the safety and privacy of all Ontarians while providing them with more connected and convenient services across government.

The Strengthening Cyber Security and Building Trust in the Public Sector Act, 2024 would also strengthen safeguards for children’s personal information and lay the foundation for the ethical use of artificial intelligence in the public sector.

“Our government is helping ensure people and businesses in Ontario have the right protections in place to freely and safely participate and thrive online,” said Todd McCarthy, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery. “This new legislation would provide the right tools to prevent and quickly respond to future cyber-attacks and privacy breaches, improve our digital delivery of services and provide a strong framework for artificial intelligence governance.”

The legislation works to better protect the people of Ontario by:

  • Strengthening cyber security in the public sector. This includes critical sectors such as hospitals, schools and children’s aid societies. The legislation will help these organizations prevent and rapidly respond to cyber threats and attacks and minimize service interruptions, ensuring these organizations can continue to operate even when breaches occur.

  • Safeguarding the data of children and youth from being stolen or used inappropriately with stronger privacy protections when they are in settings like schools. Future regulations could prevent the misuse or sale of student data for predatory marketing by third parties, ensuring children are not unduly targeted or exploited by technology providers.

  • Modernizing privacy protections. Increase the authority of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) to investigate and respond to privacy breaches and inappropriate use of personal data and mandating organizations to complete privacy impact assessments.

  • Building a strong foundation in artificial intelligence (AI) governance to solidify Ontario’s leadership in the responsible adoption of AI and emerging technologies. AI has the potential to transform vital programs and enhance services for the people of Ontario and we are ensuring it is used in a transparent, accountable, and ethical way.

  • Improving online customer service delivery. With the proposed changes, Ontarians who choose to opt-in can enjoy a more efficient experience with government services. The introduction of “tell us once” features means users will not have to repeatedly enter the same information during their interactions. This not only speeds up processes but also reduces the potential for errors, making government services more user-friendly and effective.

With more than 400 artificial intelligence firms and institutions, our province is at the centre of an AI-enabled future. As part of our ongoing work to develop safe and responsible AI applications while encouraging collaboration and fostering new partnerships, the Ontario government provided the Vector Institute with up to $27 million in June 2023, to help more Ontario companies connect with Vector’s AI experts. By continuously working to strengthen our partnerships with organizations like the Vector Institute, we are ensuring Ontario stays at the forefront of AI innovation, retains top AI talent and enhances the delivery of smarter, more efficient government services.

"Our government is removing social media from school devices and wifi, along with restricting cell phones so that we get back to basics and refocus the classroom on learning. We are also introducing legislation to further enhance privacy safeguards for children and establish ways to better protect children from inappropriate data use,” says Stephen Lecce, MPP for King-Vaughan. “Moreover, we are introducing new safeguards to ensure artificial intelligence (AI) systems are used responsibly in our schools and across the public sector. This is about protecting our kids from online predators, cyber bullying and privacy breaches, so they are safe while learning in schools and online."

Our government will consult key public sector stakeholders, Indigenous partners, academia, technology and AI experts, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the IPC as it develops regulations. As technologies continue to rapidly evolve, we are committed to continuously working with all partners to better protect Ontarians, especially our children.

Quick Facts

Additional Resources

Visit the K-12 Zone, an online resource for students to learn the importance of online safety.

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