Ottawa, Ontario, January 11, 2013 - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, has issued the following statement regarding the loss of an external hard drive from an HRSDC office in Gatineau, Quebec which contained personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers between 2000-2006 :
Full details are available in the attached backgrounder.
“I want all Canadians to know that I have expressed my disappointment to departmental officials at this unacceptable and avoidable incident in handling Canadians’ personal information. As a result, I have directed that departmental officials take a number of immediate actions to ensure that such an unnecessary situation does not happen again.
“The department will be making every effort to contact the individuals whose information was lost. This includes direct notification to those for whom we have current contact information. I am releasing all details on the breach publicly and we will be working with a number of external partners to ensure that Canadians are made aware of the data loss. The Department is continuing its investigation. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been consulted. My office has engaged the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on this matter, given its serious nature.
“I have requested that HRSDC employees across Canada receive comprehensive communications on the seriousness of these recent incidents and that they participate in mandatory training on a new security policy to ensure that similar situations do not occur again. Further, I have instructed that the new policy contain disciplinary measures that will be implemented for staff, up to and including termination, should the strict codes of privacy and security not be followed.
“On behalf of our Government, I want to reassure Canadians that we are serious about protecting their personal information. As Minister, I will ensure that every effort is taken so that HRSDC meets the expectations of Canadians in keeping their information safe and secure.”
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This news release is available in alternative formats on request.
For further information (media only):
Office of Minister Finley
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
IF THERE IS A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN ANY PRINTED VERSION AND THE ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THIS NEWS RELEASE, THE ELECTRONIC VERSION WILL PREVAIL.
In late 2012, the department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) informed the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of the loss of a USB key, which contained the personal information of over 5,000 Canadians.
Details regarding loss of the hard drive
Timeline of events
Process for inquiries and more information
HRSDC is sending letters to individuals affected, for whom we have current contact information, to advise them of the incident and what steps to take to help protect their personal information.
A toll-free number has been set-up at 1-866-885-1866 (or 416-572-1113 for those outside of North America) for individuals to verify if they are affected by this incident, and to ask additional questions regarding this issue. Hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (EST), 7 days a week, starting Monday, January 14, 2013, for as long as needed.
People with a hearing or speech impairment and using a teletypewriter (TTY) can call 1-800-263-5883. Hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m. (EST), 7 days a week, starting Monday, January 14, 2013, for as long as needed.
All details on this incident and how Canadians can protect their personal information are available at http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/main/spotlighton/privacy/index.shtml
New HRSDC policy for storing secure information
The Minister has directed that the overall policy for security and storage of personal information at HRSDC be strengthened and improved. The highlights are: