Privacy Review Submitted to Information and Privacy Commissioner

Archived Release

Privacy Review Submitted to Information and Privacy Commissioner

Ministry of Consumer Services

Ontario Government Strengthening Privacy Practices AND Accountability QUEEN'S PARK, Aug. 19 - As part of the government's plan to protect the privacy of Ontarians, Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips submitted an independent review of the government's privacy practices to Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian today. The government committed to the independent privacy review of its internal administrative operations following a privacy breach involving 27,000 Ontarians during the processing of Ontario Child Care Supplement cheques last December. "We welcome the findings of the independent, end-to-end review of the government's privacy practices," Phillips said after receiving the report from consulting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP. "The government takes the issue of personal information extremely seriously. This report provides an important roadmap to further improve the handling of personal information within the government's administrative operations. Phillips cited a number of steps undertaken by the government in the past six months to better protect the personal information of Ontario residents. The government has: - Removed Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) on all Ministry of Finance cheques and counterfoils, and is in the process of removing SIN from employee health insurance claims - Provided privacy training to more than 85 per cent of all administrative operations staff - Strengthened mail processes by eliminating the practice of envelope inserts and adding visual inspection and mechanical counting processes - Eliminated paper pay stubs for more than 50 per cent of employees, thereby reducing the possibility of privacy breaches. In addition, the government is reviewing the use of SIN across government to ensure use only when legally required. The report found that, on balance, the government is doing a good job in some areas of privacy protection but found room for improvement in others. While some privacy breaches have occurred, they "are not representative of a specific systemic problem," the report found. "We will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to guard the privacy and personal information of the citizens of Ontario," said Phillips. The government has developed an innovative "privacy standard" that can assist all ministries in measuring and monitoring their privacy practices. "The standard developed through this review will help ensure Ontarians' personal information is protected," said Phillips. The government has also undertaken to conduct annual audits of its privacy policies and practices in its administrative operations. "We are unaware of any jurisdiction that has gone this far to establish a comprehensive public sector privacy standard in its day-to-day operations," said Phillips. Disponible en fran├žais www.mbs.gov.on.caFor further information: Ciaran Ganley, Minister's Office, (416) 212-3547; Julie Rosenberg, MGS Communications, (416) 327-2793