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Canada Audio And Video Recording Laws: Is It Legal To Record Phone Calls In Ontario?

If you’re considering recording a phone call, whatever the reason may be, you should be aware that there are federal and state laws that can limit your ability to record phone calls or in-person conversations. These laws expose you to the risk of a civil claim for money damages against you by the injured party, and you might also get exposed to criminal prosecution.

If you live in Canada and you’re wondering whether you can freely record a conversation depending on the laws, we’ll help you figure things out. Below we’ll explain more about the legal and illegal aspects of recording a conversation.

cellphone record phone call conversation
via unsplash

Is it legal to record conversations in Canada?

Different states have different rules, and one must know them before deciding to do something as serious as recording a conversation with someone without them knowing. But, according to the law, is it legal to record a conversation in Canada? According to the criminal code, Canada follows the one-party consent rule, meaning that recording private conversations is legal if one of the participants consents to the recording.

This means that if there are two or more people involved in the conversation, one of them can record the phone call without informing the others. If you’re the one recording, it means you gave consent. But, non-participants are not allowed to listen or record conversations since it’s against the law. It says that a person cannot use any voice recorders, phones, video cameras with audio capability, or any other gadget that can record audio, to knowingly record a private conversation.

Recording private conversations in Ontario

If you live in Ontario, you can legally record someone, but you cannot bug someone’s phone or house since you’re not part of the conversation. Also, you don’t need to inform the other person if you decide to record them while having a conversation with them, but be careful since you must stop the recording once the conversation stops.

In case you illegally record a conversation, you can go to jail for up to 5 years. If you want to use the conversation in court but it was obtained illegally it would be inadmissible unless:

  • a judge authorizes an interception;
  • the conversation involves actual, threatened, or attempted bodily harm;
  • or the interception is done in respect of a search warrant or an actual warrant for the arrest of a person.

Recording conversations at your workplace

Sometimes employers can call their employees into meetings concerning some disputes or workplace performances. So, is it legal to record private conversations in the workplace? According to Canada’s criminal code, section 184, you are allowed to record conversations that you’re part of, or you can record them if you have consent from at least one of the other participants.

If you’re not part of the conversation you’re recording, your boss or colleagues may get the impression that you’re recording with malicious intentions and can lead to issues of mistrust. You can also be fired for secretly recording the conversation since the law in Canada states that employers are allowed to fire their employees for any reason, or no reason at all. Your employer also has the right to terminate your contract without any severance since the termination was for cause.

audio engineer recording audio phone call
via unsplash


Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a Canadian law relating to data privacy and applies to the private-sector organizations that collect, use or disclose personal information during personal businesses. The law for call recording for business is also laid out by PIPEDA, although some provinces have their provincial privacy act regulating call recordings for a business like Quebec, Alberta, and BC.

The law follows very important regulations businesses must follow to not jeopardize their business. These regulations include:

  • The recording must be done for a specified purpose, and it must meet the reasonable person test;
  • You must inform the other participant that the call may be recorded, and make sure they understand the purpose of the recording;
  • Information collected by the recording must only be used for the purposes already stated;
  • The recording must only take place if you received the other participant’s consent;
  • Organizations must ensure they comply with PIPEDA’s other provisions concerning matters like access, retention, safeguards, and disposal.

In closing

Follow the rules and regulations of recording phone calls, depending on where you live. If you live in Canada, it’s important to know the law and consider the regulations about recording a conversation, whether private or in the workplace. Remember that it’s legal to record a conversation only if you’re one of the participants, and always stop the recording once the conversation is over.

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