Increased Personal Information Privacy Breaches in Saskatchewan

As covered by CBC News earlier today, Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Gary Dickson expressed his concern about an increase in privacy breach complaints in the province in his 2008-2009 Annual Report. His office opened 62 new breach of privacy investigations over a recent 12 month period. According to today’s Press Release from the Commissioner, Dickson said:

this explosion in the volume of breach of privacy complaints however constitutes the single most significant change in our caseload since the appointment of a full-time Information and Privacy Commissioner in 2003.

He called for improvements in the areas of leadership, policy, procedures and training in the Saskatchewan government. He expressed frustration in the volume of workload and therefore delay in responding to citizens given that the Commissioner’s office is staffed by only three Portfolio Officers (including himself).

Dickson is also critical of Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board. From page 14 of the Report:

In virtually all other Canadian jurisdictions, WCB is subject to access to information legislation just like every other public body in those jurisdictions. In Saskatchewan however, the WCB has taken an interesting and, in our view, legally unfounded interpretation of section 171.1 of its enabling legislation to deny applicants access to their own personal information. Unfortunately, our office has no jurisdiction to put this before a court to have the question of interpretation resolved once and for all. In the result, there is a kind of stalemate, with WCB denying access requests routinely unless an appeal has been launched by the worker and the appeal is deemed proper and appropriate.

See: Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner 2008-2009 Annual Report (PDF, 82 pages)

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