Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Privacy Commissioner Responds on Veterans Affairs Investigation "Request"

Canada's Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, has announced her office will conduct a privacy audit of the federal Veterans Affairs department, after last week's shocking reports that confidential medical records regarding a critic of the department were widely circulated in ministerial briefing notes.

The Privacy Commissioner's office made it clear Wednesday that its audit of the Ministry's privacy policies was commenced at its own intiative, and not due to any request from the Ministry, as had been suggested by the Veterans Affairs Minister, Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

An email received Tuesday sets out a statement by the Privacy Commissioner:

I understand that the Veterans Affairs Minister made public earlier today the fact that he has asked our Office to conduct a broader investigation of privacy issues within his department.

I know you’ve been following this issue and wanted to provide the following update from our Office:

The Privacy Commissioner welcomes the minister’s invitation to conduct a systemic investigation into the privacy policies and practices of his department.

The Commissioner has advised Minister Blackburn’s office that her investigation into a complaint about the handling of one veteran’s personal information has raised concerns about the possibility of systemic privacy issues. As a result, she had already decided to initiate an audit of the department’s privacy practices.

Investigations are an important tool used to examine specific incidents. An audit will examine whether there are systemic issues that need to be addressed.

As part of this audit, the Privacy Commissioner’s Office will examine the department’s policies and practices against federal privacy requirements. We are still in the process of determining the scope of this audit and the timeline for its completion.

Our Office’s investigation into the individual complaint is in its final stages and we will be in a position to comment on our findings shortly.

Regards, Valerie

Valerie Lawton
Senior Communications Advisor /
Conseillère principale en communications
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

More on the controversy from CTV: Veterans Affairs facing privacy investigation

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
Visit our Toronto Law Firm website:

Post a Comment