November 8, 2017 4:15 pm
Updated: November 9, 2017 1:30 pm

B.C. company reprimanded for use of body cameras following chicken cruelty video

B.C.’s privacy commissioner has ruled that a Chilliwack chicken company isn’t authorized to use video to monitor its employees, a move it made after workers were videotaped abusing animals. John Hua explains why.

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A company trying to prevent future abuse of animals is being reprimanded for infringing on the privacy of employees.

The B.C. Privacy and Information Commissioner (OIPC) is warning companies that just because you can buy a video-surveillance kit at a store doesn’t mean you are allowed to use it.

READ MORE: 6 employees fired after undercover video reveals alleged abuse of chickens by Chilliwack company

This comes after Elite Services made it mandatory for some workers and supervisors to wear body cameras after a video showed employees allegedly abusing live chickens on several B.C. farms.

In a report released on Wednesday, Drew McArthur with the OIPC said the organization — Elite Services — would have been better off using methods that are not privacy-invasive, like improving hiring, training and supervision practices.

WATCH: Animal torture investigation in Chilliwack


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“Even with consent, it has to have met the threshold of reasonable in the circumstances,” said McArthur.

He added that while video surveillance is often seen as the solution for business problems, he considers it rarely effective – as well as often unlawful.

READ MORE: BC SPCA investigates alleged ‘brutal and sadistic’ treatment of chickens by Chilliwack company

But McArthur said that while the behaviour of the workers was awful, the company was not authorized to use body cameras.

“We found it was not reasonable to be recording employees for their entire shift at work in response to this situation,” he said.

WATCH: Shocking video uncovers cruelty to chicken at B.C. farm

McArthur said they’ve made seven recommendations for the company, including having a proper privacy management program in place.

The OIPC is recommending Elite Services delete stored footage.

Farming companies ‘incapable’ of monitoring themselves

Meanwhile, Krista Hiddema, managing director for Mercy For Animals said the group will continue to do covert surveillance of its own until every farm and slaughterhouse in Canada has body cameras on their staff.

The organization took the original footage of the chicken abuse back in June.

WATCH: Animal advocacy group holds press conference about undercover chicken abuse video

Hiddema said the video helped shine a light on the issue, which is why the organization is at odds with the OIPC’s report.

“I would encourage the commissioner to look at the fitted footage we’ve compiled, to reach out to some of the largest organizations in the world who are already doing this.”

READ MORE: Animal welfare groups sound alarm about spike in cruelty cases

She said farming companies need to be held accountable as they are “incapable” of monitoring themselves.

~With files from Jeremy Lye and Ria Renouf

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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