Personal data of 191 EI claimants disclosed

Our Office received 82 complaints after the Quebec regional office of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada inadvertently disclosed to an individual the personal information of 191 others.

The case involved a group of employees who had claimed employment insurance (EI) following a labour action. One individual, in appealing the denial of his claim, was furnished with an appeal docket to enable him to prepare for his hearing before the EI Board of Referees.

The package, however, accidentally included the names, dates of birth, employee identification numbers and Social Insurance Numbers of the individual’s 191 fellow employees. The investigation also established that a second list, containing the employment and leave status of certain employees, was also inadvertently disclosed.

Of the 82 complaints we received, our investigation confirmed in 79 instances that the information had, indeed, been released and the complaints were therefore well founded. Two instances were not well founded and one case was discontinued.

Officials of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada moved quickly to retrieve the improperly disclosed data, notify the affected parties, and advise them on reducing their risks of identity theft. The individuals were also given the name of a contact person at the department.

The department notified our Office of the breach and flagged the Social Insurance Numbers of the affected individuals, so that the Social Insurance Registration Office in Bathurst, N.B., could monitor the numbers for fraudulent activity.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada also took steps to prevent a similar recurrence in future. It reminded officials with its Quebec regional office about proper procedures for protecting personal information while processing appeals to the EI Board of Referees.

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