Human Resources Canada faces 4 lawsuits over lost data
Names, birthdates, loan balances and social insurance numbers of 583,000 people missing
Posted: Jan 22, 2013 9:27 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 22, 2013 1:17 PM ET
A trio of Canadian law firms is the latest to launch a multi-million-dollar, class-action lawsuit on behalf of nearly 600,000 people whose personal data was lost by Human Resources Canada.
Strosberg Sutts, Strosberg LLP in Windsor, Ont., along with Branch Macmaster LLP of Vancouver and Falconer Charney LLP of Toronto have jointly opened the case.
Similar suits have been launched in Newfoundland, Ottawa and Calgary.
Last November, a portable hard drive vanished from Human Resources Canada. It contained personal information about 583,000 people who received Canada Student Loans between 2000 and 2006.
Names, birthdates, loan balances and social insurance numbers went missing. Personal contact information for 250 HRSDC employees is also missing.
The government said no banking or medical information was on the hard drive.
The suit filed by the trio of firms seeks $600 million in compensation. That's approximately $1,000 per person affected by the loss.
"Borrowers may be entitled to compensation for the breach of their privacy, damages for identity theft and/or damages to their credit reputation, damages for the costs incurred to prevent identity theft, damages for the time spent changing your personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, damages for emotional distress/inconvenience, and/or compensation for out of pocket expenses," reads a message on Branch Macmaster's website. "Punitive damages will also be claimed because the Government failed to disclose the breach of privacy for two months."
The data went missing on Nov. 5, 2012, but the public wasn't notified about the incident until Jan. 11 of this year.
More than 40,000 students who went to the University of Windsor alone took loans between 2000 and 2006, the years affected by the lost information. At St. Clair College, also in Windsor, at least 10,000 students took out OSAP loans during that time.
Lindsay Gyori is a former student from Windsor and worries about identity theft.
"I have no control over who that person is or what that person might do with my information, so it is alarming," she said. "And now I have to make modifications to my life in terms of monitoring all of my accounts and information to make sure that the transactions that have gone through are through me only."
People urged to get credit checks
Meanwhile, St. John's lawyer Bob Buckingham filed a statement of claim Jan. 17 on behalf of all the affected Canadians.
Buckingham said a lawsuit would push the government to cover credit protection safeguards for the affected Canadians and compensate them for the stress and fear of those involved.
A spokeswoman for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada said people can ask the government to request a free credit report from a credit bureau be mailed to them, and can also ask that their social insurance number be flagged in the event unusual activity is noted. Neither of these options will provide real-time credit updates, however.
Canada's assistant privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, said the loss of so much personal data is "unprecedented," adding that her office is investigating the incident.
"This is one of the biggest breaches we've ever seen," Bernier told CBC News last week.With files from CBC
Latest Windsor News Headlines
- Sprucewood fire investigation to be 'lengthy process'
- It appears the massive plastics fire at Sprucewood Industries in west Windsor started out back of the recycling plant. more »
- Premier Wynne 'committed' to harness racing
- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's committed to making sure there is a sustainable horse racing industry in the Windsor area. more »
- Windsor fire reviewing industrial inspection policies
- The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating the massive industrial fire that broke out Tuesday at Sprucewood Industries in west Windsor. more »
- Medical centre to replace strip club downtown Windsor
- A Toronto company is investing close to $3 million in a medical clinic that will replace a strip club in downtown Windsor. more »
Top News Headlines
- 2nd suspect in Tim Bosma case charged with 1st-degree murder
- Mark Smich of Oakville, Ont., is formally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tim Bosma, the Hamilton man who disappeared earlier this month after taking two men on a test drive of his truck. Smich's arrest follows the first-degree murder charge against Dellen Millard of Toronto. more »
- U.K. attack suspects were focus of past security probes
- WARNING: This story contains graphic content. Two men accused of butchering a British soldier had featured in previous investigations by security services, a British official said, as investigators tried to determine whether the men were part of a wider radical Islamic plot. more »
- Neil Macdonald: Harper no Obama when it comes to dealing with scandals
- Beset by three so-called scandals at the moment, Barack Obama has been meeting his accusers and the press head on, Neil Macdonald writes. The same cannot be said for how Stephen Harper operates. more »
- Rob Ford: Councillors, media want answers on crack issue
- Newspaper editorials and commentators are expressing frustration over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's silence on allegations he was captured on video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. more »
- Year-round schooling coming to Windsor
- 2nd suspect named in Tim Bosma slaying
- Windsor Arena to be replaced by Catholic school
- All clear after 6-hour industrial fire in Windsor, Ont.
- Windsor fire reviewing industrial inspection policies
- Nearly 200 Catholic teachers to be laid off in Windsor-Essex
- Trapped ducklings in Windsor saved by cellphone app
- Arson suspect arrested by Windsor police
- Windsor-Tecumseh by-election to be after budget passes