Canadian laws, both federally and in each of its provinces give electronic signatures the same value as the handwritten signatures.
On a federal level, the use of digital signatures was officially approved by The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in 2004. The e-signature is equivalent to a physical signature and both are equally valid in court, so it is legally acceptable to operate with physical or digital documents.
The requirements for a secure electronic signature are:
- Unique and distinctive
- Created under exclusive control of the signatory.
- The identity of the signatory can be verified.
- Protected by technology that can detect any further alterations to the document
On a provincial level, electronic signatures have been accepted by law since 1999, as part of the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act (ULCC). Nine provinces apply this law. Quebec is the only province that has its own electronic signature laws established in the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology.
The requirements for the electronic signatures of UECA and PIPEDA are quite similar