Improper disclosure of information to prospective employer

A man contended that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC, now Service Canada) improperly provided his Social Insurance Number, address, birth date, income information and employment insurance application details to a prospective employer.

While receiving employment insurance (EI) benefits, the complainant turned down a job offer from a company. As a result, HRSDC disqualified his EI benefits. The complainant appealed its decision to the Board of Referees. He claimed that he had refused the job because of working conditions.

In accordance with the Employment Insurance Act, when an individual appeals a decision to the Board of Referees, HRSDC may share that individual’s information with interested parties such as employers and any person with a vested interest. The disclosure of information to these parties is necessary to establish the validity of an individual’s request for continuation of EI benefits.

In this case, HRSDC deemed that the prospective employer was a party to the complainant’s appeal and gave the company a complete package of information. HRSDC did not review the complainant’s file and released his Social Insurance Number, birth date and information relating to his past employment record, including rates of pay and overtime. As the complainant’s appeal to the Board of Referees was based on refusing the job offer because of working conditions, the information released by HRSDC to the parties should have been limited to what was required to establish the validity of his decision to refuse that job offer.

HRSDC agreed that it had released too much information, calling the incident an “honest mistake made in good faith by an employee.” As a result of this complaint, it reviewed its policies and procedures and changed the definition of employer to include “a current or former person or organization for whom the claimant worked.” A prospective or potential employer is no longer considered an interested party in the appeal process.

The complaint was well-founded.

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