Yukon missing persons legislation could give police access to personal info

The Yukon government is proposing legislation that would determine what personal information police could use, such as text messages, cell phone data, or personal health records.

'The RCMP need access to the right tools to do their jobs,' says Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee

Right now, police in Yukon are limited in what they can do in a search for a missing person, unless there is evidence of criminal activity. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

The Yukon government is proposing new legislation that would allow police to access the personal information of missing persons. That could include things such as cell phone records, text messages, and health information.

"The RCMP need access to the right tools to do their jobs. When trying to locate missing persons, every minute of a search is crucial," said Justice Minister Tracey McPhee in a news release.

Right now, police in Yukon are limited in what they can do in a search for a missing person, unless there is evidence of criminal activity.

The new legislation would allow police access to personal information "while still protecting a person's right to privacy," the release states.

Several provinces already have similar missing persons legislation, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

'Oversight and accountability'

According to a Yukon government online survey, such legislation allows police to apply for a court order "to fully investigate a missing persons case" even when there is no evidence of crime, or any explanation for the person's disappearance. It also clarifies the process police must follow to access personal records, and who can be considered a "missing person."

The legislation would also provide safeguards for organizations and businesses that may be required to release clients' records or information to police.

"Oversight and accountability would be built into the legislation," the survey says.

The online survey asks Yukoners what records RCMP should be allowed access to. Examples include cell phone and text message data, GPS tracking records, employment, health and financial information, and school attendance information.

It also asks whether the legislation should include a category of missing persons who are considered "persons at risk", and how they should be defined.

Last year, there were 125 missing person reports in Yukon — 54 of them adults, the rest childen and youth. The government says the "vast majority" of missing person reports are resolved within a week.

The government is accepting comments and completed surveys on the proposed legislation until September 11.


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