Private-sector workers need protection, privacy head says

Private-sector workers are not protected like other employees in Saskatchewan when it comes to their personal information, something the province's privacy commissioner says must change.

Private-sector workers are not protected like other employees in Saskatchewan when it comes to their personal information, something the province's privacy commissioner says must change.

"It's a significant gap. I'm concerned about it, and mostly because every week I get phone calls from employees," commissioner Gary Dickson told CBC News.

Dickson says customers of private businesses can complain but the provincial privacy law doesn't apply to the people who work there. Public sector workers are protected under the Saskatchewan's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Dickson says he gets upwards of nine calls a week from private sector workers. "I have to tell those people, I'm sorry, but you're not covered." 

He said people often call about workplace monitoring or the release of personal information.

One of those workers was Stephanie Sydiaha, who wanted to file a complaint against her employer, school bus company First Student, where she started working in 2007.

In 2009 she was concerned that the company would send her information to a U.S. security firm as part of a background check and sought the assistance of Saskatchewan's privacy commission.

The privacy commissioner said he was sympathetic to her concerns but couldn't pursue it.     

"If I were living at the time in Alberta or Quebec, he could have acted on my behalf," she said.

Soon, Saskatchewan will be the only province west of Ontario without a privacy-sector privacy law.

"Alberta and B.C. already have a harmonized set of rules. Manitoba is adopting that harmonized set of rules. We're the odd person out," Dickson said.

Dickson has been asking the province to close the gap for a decade.

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