There are lots of legal topics that will likely make headlines in 2019, but here are my top 3 pick for hot or important legal issues in the new year:
- Cannabis-related litigation will abound.The much anticipated legislation for marijuana legalization was already delayed by punting back and forth by the Senate. Implementation in Ontario was further hampered by restrictions on sales and distribution issues due to the postal strike. Most cannabis in Ontario is currently still sourced illegally.
There have been plenty of conversations about the potential implications of marijuana legalization in Canada, spanning everything from its use in the workplace, implications in family law, and landlord-tenant disputes. But it’s the impaired driving legislation that will probably generate the greatest volume of constitutional challenges, as the science behind detection and measuring impairment is still far from perfect.
We haven’t even begin to see the full boom of cannabis use in Canada, as full legalization will likely roll out further in 2019 with greater privatization and a broader range of products available on the market.
- Big Data and privacy concerns will become even bigger.
It seems like almost every other month in 2018 there was a major data breach, especially around consumer-oriented databases and social media. There is no indication that the pace of these will slow in the coming year.
Couple this with the ubiquitous use of IoT and smarthome devices, and we’re dealing with private information in the hands of private entities on a scale that has never been seen before.
Until now, we haven’t seen a comparable amount of litigation over the lack of responsibility of those collecting, using, or inadvertently disclosing this data. Greater protections through GDPR in Europe are likely to foster a greater shift towards consumer-oriented privacy on this side of the ocean.
Many of us have been hoping for some more robust legislation, or at least judicial decisions that help better protect individual privacy.
- Privatization of health care is a more distinct possibility.
Canada has one of the best health care systems in the world, by almost any measure of comparison. Central to these qualitative outcomes is the universality of health services, despite the publicly funded, privately administered model that we employ.
This system has come under strain with baby boomers and more complex care due to advanced research and development, and the principles under the Canada Health Act are directly challenged by the push for mechanisms that circumvent the system. Private clinics in B.C. are currently leading some of these challenges.
Add to this the fact that Canada’s two most populous provinces have elected right-leaning governments that call for fiscal conservatism, yet still want federal funding for health services, and you have a perfect storm.
I don’t expect any of these issues to be fully resolved in 2019, but there should be some significant movement in the field worthy of noting.