Personal files turn up in dumpster


« We have to find out what happened. Just because there appears to be no apparent wrong-doing at the moment doesn’t mean that things couldn’t be done better. »

 

 

 


The province’s privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into Child and Family Services after government documents containing complete case files for foster parents turned up in a city dumpster.



A homeless person found a stack of files east of NAIT earlier this week that contain hundreds of detailed assessments for foster children and their families, including financial statements, health-care numbers and allegations of physical abuse.



"We have to find out what happened," privacy commissioner Frank Work told Metro yesterday.



"Just because there appears to be no apparent wrong-doing at the moment doesn’t mean that things couldn’t be done better."



The files had been reported stolen Friday from a caseworker’s vehicle after she attended a function at the nearby Chateau Louis Hotel.



Officials with Child and Family Services said storing personal information securely is a priority for them, but social workers often have to take paper files with them while they travel on the road.



But Work said it’s concerning that his office first heard about the major privacy breach in media reports rather than directly from the agency involved, and he wants to know under what circumstances government files are left unattended in parked cars.



"I would like it if they would tell us when these things happen," he said.



An amendment to the province’s privacy laws is currently before the legislature, he said.



If passed, it will require the immediate disclosure of any lost or stolen personal information.