PSPC investigating privacy breach involving personal information of 69,000 federal employees
The Public Service Pay Centre is shown in Miramichi, N.B., on July 27, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward
OTTAWA -- More than 69,000 federal public servants overpaid by the Phoenix pay system are being informed that their personal information has been shared in error with the wrong departments.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has launched an investigation after the privacy breach involving the personal information of employees earlier this month.
“Our government takes privacy concerns and the protection of personal information very seriously and it is top of mind in the work we do at PSPC. We will take steps to ensure that this does not happen again and fully reevaluate the way in which personal information is stored and used," said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand, in a statement to CTV News.
On Feb. 4, the personal information of public servants was sent to 161 chief financial officers and heads of human resources in 62 departments across the public service.
In a statement, PSPC says departmental heads of human resources and chief financial officers receive "an encrypted email with a bi-weekly report listing employment overpayments for their department.” The reports include the employees’ full name, Personal Record Identifier, home address and overpayments.
PSPC says the email with the information was sent on Feb. 4, and the error was reported on the same day.
“We take the protection and security of personal information very seriously,” PSPC said in a statement. “As soon as the breach was discovered, immediate steps were taken to contain and destroy the improperly shared information.”
The department adds recipients were contacted immediately and asked to delete the email. Public Services and Procurement Canada’s information technology services has also deleted the email from its servers.
PSPC says “there is no evidence that this information was shared outside of government”, adding the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has been notified.
PSPC has stopped the distribution of the bi-weekly reports listing employment overpayments until it has the results of its investigation and reviewed current procedures and controls.