Prince Albert mulls tracking city workers using GPS

City workers in Prince Albert, Sask., may soon have their every movement tracked through GPS technology embedded in their work cell phones and vehicles.
City workers in Prince Albert may soon be tracked using GPS technology, Ryan Pilon reports. 2:02

City workers in Prince Albert, Sask., may soon have their every movement tracked through GPS technology embedded in their work cell phones and vehicles.

A proposal, to be debated by city council Monday, would see the locator data available in their phones and some vehicles collected and tracked at city hall.

"I'm in favour of it," council member Rick Orr told CBC News Thursday. "I think the employees will be too, once they learn it's not big brother watching them."

City council in Prince Albert is considering tracking workers using GPS technology. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Orr said he does not believe the plan is about monitoring the employees, although he says citizens have complained to him when they see workers on breaks.

"A coffee break is 15 minutes," Orr said. "And I think that any employee or the taxpayer wants to know that the people are getting their fair breaks, but they aren't spending half-an-hour, 25 minutes extra driving to and from the coffee shop."

Orr said he believes the data collected may actually show citizens how workers are tending to their duties.

"We've got a lot of criticism from the public that our employees aren't efficient," Orr said. "We don't think that's true.  I think what we're going to find is that our foreman and our supervisors are going to be able to track their people better and figure out how to make things more efficient."

The idea has caught the attention of Saskatchewan privacy commissioner who believes the employer would have to have a valid reason for tracking workers.

"It's one thing if you have evidence someone is stealing from the company," Gary Dickson said of the issue of monitoring workers. "But a system that does general surveillance without there being some particular misconduct that's being investigated  is usually seen as excessive."

The union representing city workers in Prince Albert says it will study the proposal to determine if the tracking is to benefit worker safety or simply to monitor workers' movements.

With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon