The P.E.I. government is apologizing to post-secondary students after a mail out left their Social Insurance Numbers clearly visible in the envelope window.

The gaffe was revealed when government officials received a call from an upset parent.

"They were apologetic about it. They felt bad that it happened, but there was basically nothing they could do," said Tracey MacDonald of the response he got from government after he spotted his son's name and SIN number when the envelope arrived in his mailbox.

"You would think there would be more ways to go secure than just leaving that wide open like that."

A statement from the Department of Advanced Learning blamed the problem on a faulty mailing machine.

"Privacy is Government's primary concern and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused," the statement read.

The mailing went out to recipients of post-secondary grants and bursaries, which includes a large portion of post-secondary students in the province, but the government has no way of knowing how many mailings were affected by the faulty machine.

"I wasn't looking for anything to be done," said MacDonald.

"I was just quite shocked."

But Opposition leader Steven Myers said something should be done. It was a government error, and the government needs to take responsibility, he said.

"Obviously they're going to have to offer some sort of protection to people's credit, much like the federal government did," said Myers.

"It is government's fault, certainly not the people who had their privacy breached."

MacDonald believes the risk of identity theft in this case is low, but he hopes the province will be more careful in the future.

For mobile device users: What should the government do about Social Insurance Numbers revealed on letters to students?